True System Reference Document, Generic Edition

All of the following text is Open Gaming Content.


In True SRD games, heroes attempt many deeds, from wooing hearts to felling monsters. This chapter -- joined with the chapters on skills, feats, and powers -- gives rules for doing things, whether mundane or heroic, in the game.

The chapter focuses on kinds of action: physical actions, social actions, and fighting. The chapter closes with an overview of various environmental hazards heroes may encounter.

Physical Actions

Ability scores, skills, and feats define characters' physical capabilities in the True SRD. They affect the ability to move, carry loads, and throw things, three topics discussed in this section. Heroes can also push past their physical limitations using extra effort.


Heroes move around a lot, especially when the action gets going. The Narrator moderates the pace of a game session, and so determines when movement is important enough to be worth measuring. During casual scenes, you usually won't have to worry about movement rates. If a character arrives somewhere and takes a stroll around, there's no need to know exactly how fast the character goes; it just happens. During action scenes, however, it may be important to have an idea how fast and how far a hero can move.

Movement Pace

Characters generally move at a normal, accelerated, or all-out pace. Most characters' base speed is 30 feet, meaning a character can walk 30 feet as a move action every round. The following movement paces modify base speed:

Normal: A normal pace represents unhurried but purposeful movement at the character's normal speed, which is usually 30 feet per round (about 3 miles per hour). This is the equivalent of walking for a normal unencumbered human.

Accelerated: An accelerated pace, sometimes called a hustle or double move, is twice the character's normal speed, usually 60 feet per round (about 6 miles per hour). This is the equivalent of jogging for a normal unencumbered human. Taking two move actions in a round is accelerated movement.

All Out: Moving four times your base speed is an all-out pace, the equivalent of running or sprinting, usually 120 feet per round (about 12 miles per hour). All-out movement is a full-round action, and you lose any dodge bonus to Defense, since you're not easily able to avoid attacks.

You can move all out for 10 rounds, plus twice your Constitution score (so 8 rounds for Constitution -1, 16 rounds for Constitution +3, and so forth). After that you must succeed at a Constitution check (Difficulty 10) to continue moving at this pace. You must check again each round you continue to move all out, and the Difficulty of this check increases by 1 for each check you have made. When you fail a check, you become fatigued and must drop to an accelerated or normal pace.

Hampered Movement

Obstructions, bad surface conditions, and poor visibility can hamper movement. The Narrator determines the category into which a specific condition falls (see the Hampered Movement table). When movement is hampered, multiply the standard distance by the movement penalty (a fraction) to determine the distance covered. For example, a character who can normally cover 60 feet with a double move can cover only 30 feet if moving through thick undergrowth.

If more than one condition applies, multiply the normal distance covered by all movement penalty fractions that apply. For instance, a character who normally could cover 60 feet with a double move could cover only 15 feet moving through thick undergrowth in heavy fog (one-quarter his double move).


Condition Examples Movement Penalty
Moderate Undergrowth x3/4
Heavy Thick undergrowth x1/2
Bad Steep slope, mud x1/2
Very bad Deep snow, slick ice x1/4
Poor visibility Darkness, heavy fog x1/2


Strength determines how much weight heroes can lift and how much any additional encumbrance slows them down. See the Carrying Capacity table for how much characters can lift based on their Strength score. (The figures in the Carrying Capacity table are for medium creatures. Larger and smaller creatures can carry more or less depending on their size category. see Size in Chapter 8 for details.)

Carrying more than a light load imposes penalties to Acrobatics, Climb, Escape Artist, Jump, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, and Swim checks, like an armor check penalty (see Armor Qualities in Chapter 5). The penalty is doubled for Swim checks.

Light Load: Characters can lift and carry up to a light load without any penalties or difficulties.

Medium Load: Characters carrying a medium load have a maximum dodge bonus of +3 and a -3 armor check penalty. They move at 2/3 normal speed.

Heavy Load: Characters can lift up to a heavy load overhead. They have a maximum dodge bonus of +1 and a -6 armor check penalty. They move at 2/3 normal speed.

Maximum Load: Characters can lift up to the maximum load off the ground, but can only stagger around with it. While overloaded in this way, characters lose any dodge bonus to Defense and can move only 5 feet per round as a full-round action. You cannot take any other actions while supporting a maximum load.

Push/Drag: Characters can push or drag up to five times their heavy load weight, moving at 1/2 normal speed. Favorable conditions (smooth ground, dragging a slick object) double these numbers, and bad circumstances (broken ground, pushing an object that snags) can reduce them to one-half or less.


Strength Light Load Medium Load Heavy Load Maximum Load Drag
-5 3 lb. 6 lb. 10 lb. 20 lb. 50 lb.
-4 6 lb. 13 lb. 20 lb. 40 lb. 100 lb.
-3 13 lb. 26 lb. 40 lb. 80 lb. 200 lb.
-2 20 lb. 40 lb. 60 lb. 120 lb. 300 lb.
-1 26 lb. 53 lb. 80 lb. 160 lb. 400 lb.
+0 33 lb. 66 lb. 100 lb. 200 lb. 500 lb.
+1 43 lb. 86 lb. 130 lb. 260 lb. 650 lb.
+2 58 lb. 116 lb. 175 lb. 350 lb. 875 lb.
+3 76 lb. 153 lb. 230 lb. 460 lb. 1,150 lb.
+4 100 lb. 200 lb. 300 lb. 600 lb. 1,500 lb.
+5 133 lb. 266 lb. 400 lb. 800 lb. 2,000 lb.
+6 173 lb. 346 lb. 520 lb. 1,040 lb. 2,600 lb.
+7 233 lb. 466 lb. 700 lb. 1,400 lb. 3,500 lb.
+8 306 lb. 613 lb. 920 lb. 1,840 lb. 4,600 lb.
+9 400 lb. 800 lb. 1,200 lb. 2,400 lb. 6,000 lb.
+10 532 lb. 1,064 lb. 1,600 lb. 3,200 lb. 8,000 lb.


Load Max Dex Check Penalty Speed All-out Move
Light None 0 Normal Normal
Medium +3 -3 2/3 Normal
Heavy +1 -6 2/3 -1 multiple
Maximum +0 -- 5 ft. --


Characters can throw any object they can lift, up to a heavy load. (You cannot throw your maximum load; only drop it adjacent to you.) Picking up an object is a move action, while throwing something is a standard action, so it's possible to pick up and throw an object in one round.

The distance you can throw an object is based on its weight and your Strength. You can throw your heavy load 5 feet. For every 2 points of Strength you have over the minimum required to lift an object as a heavy load, double the distance you can throw it. This means a Strength +5 character has 5 points more Strength than needed to lift 100 pounds as a heavy load and can therefore throw a 100-pound object up to 20 feet (5 feet x 2 x 2).

Extra Effort

Heroes are often called upon to perform feats beyond their normal limits. This calls for extra effort. Players can use extra effort to improve a hero's abilities in exchange for the hero suffering some fatigue from the effort.

Extra effort is a free action and can be performed at any time during a hero's turn, but is limited to once per round. A hero using extra effort can gain one of the following benefits:

At the beginning of the round immediately after extra effort, the hero suffers a level of fatigue (see Fatigue in Chapter 6). A fatigued hero becomes exhausted and an exhausted hero becomes unconscious, the round after using extra effort. If you spend a Conviction point at the start of the round following extra effort to shake off the fatigue, the hero suffers no adverse effects.

Other specific uses of extra effort (usually involving supernatural powers) are specified in the text.

Social Actions

There's more to adventures than just fighting and feats of daring. Characters also interact in various ways. Heroes try to negotiate agreements between disputing parties or go on diplomatic missions.

Villains taunt and threaten or even try to sway heroes to their side. People get into disagreements or debates. Whole adventures may hinge on convincing the right person of the right thing at the right time.

Influencing Attitudes

The Narrator determines the starting attitude of any character the heroes encounter during the game. The heroes can then try to influence the character's attitude using Charisma and various interaction skills, such as Diplomacy and Intimidate. The Influence table shows the effects of character attitudes and the Difficulty of attempting to change someone's with a check. Note that a particularly bad influence check can actually make a character's attitude worse. For example, getting less than 5 on a Diplomacy check makes an unfriendly character turn hostile. In general, a hero can attempt to influence another character only once in any given scene.


Attitude Means Possible Actions
Hostile Will take risks to oppose you Attack, interfere, berate, flee
Unfriendly Wishes you ill Mislead, gossip, avoid, watch suspiciously, insult
Indifferent Doesn't care either way Socially acceptable interaction
Friendly Wishes you well Chat, advise, offer limited help, advocate
Helpful Will take risks to aid you Protect, back up, heal, aid, support
Starting Attitude New Attitude Result
Hostile Unfriendly Indifferent Friendly Helpful
Hostile <20 20 25 35 50
Unfriendly <5 5 15 25 40
Indifferent -- <1 1 15 30
Friendly -- -- <1 1 20

While heroes can influence the attitudes of Narrator characters, note that heroes and Narrator characters generally cannot use interaction skills to change the attitudes of the heroes themselves. Players choose the attitudes of their heroes and when they change. Only things like supernatural powers can directly influence a hero's overall attitude. Heroes are affected by applications of some interaction checks, such as attempts to deceive them using Bluff or shaking their confidence with Intimidate, but their overall attitudes remain under the control of the players.

The Narrator may wish to suggest changes in attitude toward a particularly charming or influential supporting character, but shouldn't take control of the heroes attitudes and behavior away from the players without some sort of supernatural force being involved.

Social Interaction

The various social actions heroes may wish to accomplish are governed by interaction skills. Note that these skills are all usable untrained, so anyone can attempt these actions. Naturally charismatic people tend to be good at them, but those with real talent or training (reflected by ranks in the appropriate interaction skills) are the best.


Bluff is ultimately the skill of getting what you want by misleading or at least exaggerating. Completely honest social interactions should use another skill (usually Diplomacy). Bluff is opposed by itself or Sense Motive; it's difficult to trick an expert liar, and some people just have a sense of when someone is trying to pull the wool over their eyes.

Fast-Talk: The basic use of Bluff is lying and getting away with it. Make opposed Bluff checks, or Bluff versus Sense Motive, to see if someone gets caught in a lie. If the liar wins, then the story is believable. Heroes or Narrator characters who successfully fast-talk other Narrator characters can convince them to do things based on the success of the Bluff check, and the believability of their story.

Haggling: Haggling for a price or a similar deal is likewise an opposed check to see who bluffs best. The seller uses Bluff while the buyer uses Bluff or Sense Motive, whichever is better. If the seller wins, the sale is made, with a 25 percent increase in price per 5 points the check exceeds the opposing result. If the buyer wins, then the price doesn't go above market value (the price listed in Chapter 5) and is negotiated down 10 percent per 5 points the check exceeds the opposing result; although, the buyer still has the option to say no if the final price is too much.

Seduction: The subtle dance of seduction involves using Bluff to get someone to do what you want with promises (implied or explicit) of sexual favors. The seducer makes a Bluff check, while the prey makes a Bluff or Sense Motive check, whichever is better. The seducer's Difficulty increases if his suggestions go against the target's personality in some way. Use the modifiers in the Bluff skill description (see Bluff in Chapter 2) as a guideline. For example, attempting to seduce someone in a monogamous relationship entails a risk to the target, for a +5 to +10 bonus on the target's check. Trying to seduce a target with a different sexual orientation gives them a +20 bonus on their Bluff or Sense Motive check.


Diplomacy is the gentle art of persuasion, debate, discussion, and etiquette. It is the premier interaction skill for those interested in dealing with others in social situations.

Negotiation: Negotiating an agreement with another party is a Diplomacy check, with the Difficulty based on the other party's attitude. The outcome of the negotiation is based on the other party's final attitude. An indifferent war chief may become a friendly ally, while a potential ally could become unfriendly or even hostile if negotiations don't go well.

Persuasion: Convincing someone of the rightness of your view is a Diplomacy check. The Narrator evaluates the subject's attitude toward your viewpoint or the subject at hand (rather than you personally), and your check can improve that attitude.

Making Friends: Make Diplomacy checks to favorably dispose someone toward you. A friendly or helpful result means you have a potential new friend, if you choose to maintain the relationship over time.

Foreign Customs: When your hero is dealing with unusual or foreign customs, the Narrator may ask for a Diplomacy check for you to avoid making any faux pas. The Difficulty is based on how obscure the custom is: Difficulty 10 for slightly obscure customs, Difficulty 15 for moderately obscure ones, and Difficulty 20 to 30 for very obscure ones. A failed check means a potentially embarrassing social blunder, which may worsen the attitude of your hosts, apply a penalty to further interaction checks, or both.

Gather Information

Of all the interaction skills, Gather Information deals most with social groups, whether it's finding things out or spreading rumors through certain social circles.

Assessing Social Situations: You can make a Gather Information check to get a feel for any social situation. It's Difficulty 15 to get a general idea of the mood of a situation, as well as the prevailing attitude (so you have an idea of the Difficulty of using other interaction skills). Picking up on subtle undercurrents may require a higher check result, at the Narrator's discretion.

Bureaucracy: Gather Information can help cut through red tape and navigate through bureaucracies. The Difficulty of the Gather Information check depends on the challenge, from 10, for navigating simple bureaucratic procedures, to 20 or more, for dealing with particularly complex or hidebound bureaucracies.

Spreading Rumors: You can also use Gather Information to put information out where others will find or hear of it. The trick is to ensure the rumors are not traced back to you. This is an opposed check of Gather Information. If you win, then you successfully pass on whatever information you want. If you lose, then the other party traces the rumors back to you, and reacts accordingly.


Although intimidation is not the approach for polite society, sometimes a forceful approach is called for, and the Intimidate skill covers all sorts of forceful social interactions, not just threats.

Command: Make an Intimidate check when you bark a command or issue an order to someone and want it obeyed now. The Narrator can grant bonuses for circumstances; a noble issuing a command to a commoner has a clear advantage, while a king making the same command has a major one! A check is only necessary in cases where there's some question about whether or not the subject will obey the order. A loyal subject or retainer, for example, will carry out routine orders without need for a check, but a command to leave a comrade behind on the battlefield may require one, for example.

Interrogation: To get information out of someone by exerting pressure, make an Intimidate check against the result of the subject's Sense Motive check or Will saving throw, whichever has the greater bonus. The Narrator can modify the check using the modifiers for the Bluff skill (see Chapter 2: Skills), so it's harder to get subjects to give up information that compromises them or their allies. A successful Intimidate check gets the information. Modifiers may apply for the use of interrogation techniques ranging from sleep deprivation to torture, and a successful Intimidate check for interrogation can provide a +2 bonus on a Mind Probe check.


Perform is an interaction skill aimed at an audience rather than an individual, but it can still influence the audience's attitude overall, so long as the Narrator feels the performance is appropriate and the performer is trying to shift everyone's attitude in the same way. An character might use Perform specialties, like comedy or stringed instruments, to warm up an audience and improve their attitude before attempting skills like Diplomacy and Gather Information.

Sense Motive

Sense Motive is the catchall skill for resisting social interactions. While each interaction skill typically opposes itself (it's harder to trick someone who's skilled in Bluff, for example), Sense Motive covers a general social shrewdness and awareness of the ins and outs of interaction.

Sense Motive checks are passive, in that they're only made to resist other interactions. At the Narrator's discretion, someone who makes a successful Sense Motive check to avoid a particular interaction can make another check with a Difficulty 10 as an aid another action. The character must be able to communicate with the subjects, and point out the flaws in the interaction to give them the +2 aid another bonus to resist it. This can range from an expert debater poking holes in someone's argument to an impassioned plea to a crowd not to listen to a rabble-rouser. Note this is only to aid others against particular interaction checks. If the character is also trying to sway them to his point of view, then it's more likely an opposed interaction check between the two parties.


Sometimes heroes must fight to achieve their goals. This section details the rules for fights, starting with the basics and then looking at some of the more unusual strategies heroes can employ.

Combat Sequence

Combat in the True SRD is cyclical. Everybody acts in turn in a regular cycle called a round. Generally, combat runs in the following way:

  1. Each combatant starts the battle flat-footed. Once a combatant acts, she is no longer flat-footed.
  2. The Narrator determines which characters are aware of their opponents at the start of the battle. If some but not all combatants are aware of their opponents, a surprise round happens before regular rounds begin. The combatants aware of their opponents can act in the surprise round, so they roll for initiative. In initiative order (highest to lowest), combatants who started the battle aware of their opponents each take a standard action or move action -- not both -- during the surprise round. Unaware combatants do not get to act in the surprise round. If no one or everyone starts the battle aware, there is no surprise round.
  3. Any remaining combatants roll initiative. All combatants are now ready to begin their first regular round.
  4. Combatants act in initiative order.
  5. When everyone has had a turn, the combatant with the highest initiative total acts again, and steps 4 and 5 repeat until combat ends.

Combat Statistics

Several traits determine how well you do in combat: your attack bonus, defense bonus, damage bonus, and saving throws. This section summarizes these traits and how to use them.

Attack Bonus

An attack represents the attempt to strike a target with an attack. When you make an attack, roll d20 and add your total attack bonus. If your result equals or exceeds the target's Defense, you hit and may deal damage. Your attack bonus is equal to the following:

combat bonus + Dexterity + size modifier + miscellaneous modifiers - range penalty

Combat Bonus: Your skill in combat, based on your role(s) and level, determines your basic ability to successfully strike a target.

Dexterity: Speed, agility, and accuracy make it easier to hit the target. You add your character's Dexterity score to your combat bonus to reflect this.

Size Modifier: Smaller targets are harder to hit, while larger targets are easier. A modifier to combat bonus is used to reflect this. See the table Size Modifier to Combat Bonus below. Since the same size modifier applies to two opponents of the same size, they strike each other normally.

Miscellaneous Modifiers: The circumstances of your attack may involve a modifier to your attack bonus. Attacking while prone, for example, imposes a -4 penalty on melee attack rolls. see Combat Modifiers later in this chapter for other modifiers.

Range Penalty: The range penalty with a ranged attack depends on the attack you're using and the distance to the target. All ranged attacks have a range increment. Any attack at a distance of one range increment or less carries no penalty for range, so an attack with a range increment of 50 feet can strike at enemies up to 50 feet away with no penalty. However, each full range increment thereafter causes a cumulative -2 penalty to the attack roll. For example, a character firing the same attack at a target 120 feet away suffers a -4 attack penalty (because 120 feet is over two range increments, but not three increments).

Generally, projectile weapons have a maximum range of 10 increments. Thrown weapons have a maximum range of 5 increments.

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, regardless of the opponent's Defense. A natural 20 is also a threat, a possible critical hit (see Critical Hits, below).

Defense Bonus

Your Defense represents how hard it is for opponents to hit you, the Difficulty for an opponent's attack roll. Your Defense is equal to the following:

10 + combat bonus + dodge or parry bonus + size modifier + miscellaneous modifiers

Combat Bonus: Your skill in combat allows you to avoid attacks, so you add your combat bonus to your defense. If you can't move, you can't use your combat bonus. For example, you lose your bonus if you're bound or unable to move.

Dodge Bonus: Your dodge bonus represents your ability to actively dodge attacks. It's equal to your Dexterity score, and may be modified by feats and circumstances. If you can't react to an attack, you can't use your dodge bonus. For example, you lose your dodge bonus if you're bound or when you're caught flat-footed at the beginning of combat. Most situational bonuses to Defense are dodge bonuses.

Parry Bonus: Your parry bonus represents your ability to deflect attacks. It's equal to your Strength score, and may be modified by feats and circumstances. You can only use parry bonus against melee attacks, and only if you are armed (having the Improved Strike feat counts as being armed, see Improved Strike in Chapter 3) or have a shield. If you can't react to an attack, you can't use your parry bonus.

Size Modifier: Smaller targets are harder to hit, while larger targets are easier. See the table Size Modifier to Combat Bonus. Since the same size modifier applies to opponents of the same size, they strike each other normally.

Miscellaneous Modifiers: The circumstances may also apply miscellaneous modifiers to your dodge bonus or Defense. see Combat Modifiers later in this chapter for some examples.

Damage Bonus

When you hit with an attack, you may deal damage. Each attack has a damage bonus. This is typically a weapon's damage modified by your Strength; although, some attacks have a fixed damage.

Damage Bonus = weapon damage + Strength

Weapon Damage: Weapons have a damage modifier, showing how much damage they inflict. Most projectile weapons inflict a fixed damage bonus. Melee and thrown weapons add the wielder's Strength score to their damage.

Strength: Your Strength measures how hard you can hit, so your Strength score applies to damage when you attack unarmed or with a melee or thrown weapon.

Lethal and Non-lethal Damage

Damage comes in two types: lethal and non-lethal. Lethal damage does lasting injury and can kill. Non-lethal damage can stun and cause unconsciousness, but causes no serious injury.

Critical Hits

When you make an attack roll and get a natural 20 (the d20 actually shows 20), you have scored a threat. The hit might be a critical hit (sometimes called a crit). To find out whether it's a critical hit, make another attack roll, using the same attack bonus. If this second roll equals or exceeds the target's Defense, the attack is a critical hit. If not, the attack still hits, but as a normal attack, not a critical hit. A critical hit increases the attack's damage according to the type of weapon or attack. If unspecified, a critical hit increases damage by +3.

Increased Threat Range: Characters with the Improved Critical feat can score a threat on a natural result less than 20. Any attack roll that doesn't result in a hit is not a threat. Only natural 20s always hit.

Saving Throws

When you're subjected to a potentially harmful effect, you get a saving throw to avoid or reduce it. Like an attack roll or check, a saving throw is a d20 roll plus a bonus based on an ability score and other modifiers. Your saving throw is equal to the following:

d20 + base save bonus + ability score + miscellaneous modifiers

The Difficulty for a save is based on the attack itself.


Size Modifier Size Modifier
Colossal -8 Small +1
Gargantuan -4 Tiny +2
Huge -2 Diminutive +4
Large -1 Fine +8
Medium 0    

The four different kinds of saving throws are the following:

Toughness: Your ability to resist physical punishment and direct damage. Your Toughness saving throw equals your Constitution score, modified by feats like Defensive Rolls and Great Toughness, and any armor you are wearing.

Fortitude: Your ability to resist attacks against your vitality and health, such as poison and disease. You apply your Constitution score to your Fortitude saving throws.

Reflex: Your ability to avoid harm through reaction time and agility, including dodging explosions and crashes. You apply your Dexterity score to Reflex saving throws.

Will: Your resistance to mental influence and domination as well as certain powers. You apply your Wisdom score to your Will saving throws.


Every round, each combatant gets to do something. The combatants' initiative checks determine the order in which they act, from highest to lowest. At the start of a battle, each combatant makes an initiative check. The players each roll for their heroes while the Narrator rolls for everyone else. An initiative check is a Dexterity check.

Initiative Check = d20 + Dexterity + miscellaneous modifiers

The Narrator finds out in what order heroes act, counting down from highest total to lowest. Each character acts in turn, with the check applying to all rounds of the combat. Usually, the Narrator writes the names of the characters down in initiative order to move quickly from one character to the next each round. If two combatants have the same initiative check result, they act in order of highest Dexterity first. If there is still a tie, roll a die, with the highest roll going first.

Flat-Footed: At the start of a battle, before you have had a chance to act (specifically, before your first regular turn in the initiative order), you are flat-footed. You can't use your dodge or parry bonus, if any, while flat-footed. The Uncanny Dodge feat allows you to retain your dodge and parry bonus to Defense while flat-footed.

Opponent Initiative

Typically, the Narrator makes a single initiative check for opponents. That way, each player gets a turn each round and the Narrator also gets one turn. At the Narrator's option, however, he can make separate initiative checks for different groups of opponents or even for individual foes. For instance, the Narrator may make one initiative check for a villain and another for all of his minions.

Joining a Fight

If characters enter a fight after it's begun, they roll initiative and act whenever their turn comes up in the existing order.


When a combat starts, if you are not aware of your enemies but they are aware of you, you're surprised. If you know about your opponents but they don't know about you, you surprise them.

Determining Awareness: Sometimes all combatants on a side are aware of their enemies, sometimes none are, and sometimes only some of them are. Sometimes a few combatants on each side are aware and other combatants on each side are unaware.

The Narrator determines who is aware of whom at the start of a battle. The Narrator may call for Notice checks or other checks to see how aware the characters are of their opponents. Some examples:

The Surprise Round: If some, but not all, of the combatants are aware of their opponents, a surprise round happens before regular rounds begin. The combatants aware of their opponents can act in the surprise round, so they roll for initiative. In initiative order (highest to lowest), combatants who started the battle aware of their opponents each take an attack or move action, not both. If no one or everyone is surprised, a surprise round doesn't occur.

Unaware Combatants: Combatants unaware at the start of battle do not get to act in the surprise round. Unaware combatants are flat-footed because they have not acted yet. Because of this, they lose any dodge bonus to Defense.


The things characters can do during combat are broken down into actions, described in this section.

The Combat Round

Each round represents about 6 seconds of time in the game world. In the real world, a round is an opportunity for each character to take an action. Anything a person could reasonably do in 6 seconds, your hero can do in 1 round.

Each round begins with the character with the highest initiative result and then proceeds, in descending order, from there. Each round uses the same initiative order. When a character's turn comes up in the initiative order that character performs his entire round's worth of 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 "week." A week can mean either a calendar week or a span of time from a day in one week to the same day the next week. 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 number (initiative count) in the next round. Effects lasting a certain number of rounds end just before the same initiative number where they began.

one round = span of time from one initiative count to the same initiative count in the next round

Action Types

The five types of actions are standard, move, full, free, and reaction. In a normal round, you can perform a standard action and a move action (or two move actions; you can always take a move action in place of a standard action), or you can perform a full action. You can also perform as many free and reactions actions as your Narrator allows.

In some situations (such as in the surprise round) you may be limited to taking only a standard or move action, not both.

Standard Action

A standard action allows you to do something. You can make an attack, use a skill, feat, or power (unless it requires a full action to perform; see below), or perform other similar actions. During a combat round, you can take a standard action and a move action. You can take the move action before or after, but not during, the standard action.

Move Action

A move action allows you to move your speed or perform an action taking a similar amount of time, such as climb one-quarter of your speed, draw or stow a weapon or other object, stand up, pick up an object, or perform some equivalent action (see the Actions in Combat Table).

You can take a move action in place of a standard action. For example, rather than moving your speed and attacking you can stand up and move your speed (two move actions), draw a weapon and climb one-quarter your speed (two move actions), or pick up an object and stow it in a backpack (two move actions).

If you move no actual distance in a round (usually because you have traded a move action for an equivalent action like standing up), you can take a 5- foot "step" before, during, or after the action. For example, you can stand up (a move action), take a 5-foot step, and attack (a standard action).

Full Action

A full action requires all your attention during a round. The only movement you can take during a full action is a 5-foot step before, during, or after the action. Some full-round actions do not allow you to take a 5-foot step. You can also perform free actions (see below) as the Narrator allows.

Free Action

Free actions consume very little time and, over the span of the round, their impact is so minor they are considered to take no real time at all. You can perform one or more free actions while taking another action. However, the Narrator puts reasonable limits on what you can do for free. A good rule of thumb is your Dexterity or Intelligence bonus +1 in free actions per round, with a minimum of one. For instance, dropping an object, dropping to a prone position, speaking a sentence or two, and ceasing to concentrate on maintaining a power are all free actions.


A reaction is something that happens in response to something else, like a reflex. Like free actions, reactions take so little time they're considered free. The difference between the two is a free action is a conscious choice made on the character's turn to act. A reaction is a reflex or automatic response that can occur even when it's not your turn to act. Characters can react even while unable to take normal actions, such as while stunned. A saving throw is an example of a reaction, something you instinctively do to avoid danger. Some powers and other traits are usable as reactions.

Action Descriptions

The most common actions and their game effects are described here.

Aid (Standard Action)

If you are in position to attack an opponent, you can attempt to aid a friend engaged in melee with that opponent as a standard action. Make an attack roll against Defense 10. If you succeed, you don't actually damage the opponent -- but your friend gains either a +2 bonus on an attack roll against that opponent or a +2 bonus to Defense against that opponent (your choice) on the friend's next turn. Multiple aid bonuses stack.

Aim (Full Action)

By taking a full action to aim and line up an attack you get a bonus to hit when you make the attack. If you're making a melee or unarmed attack, or a ranged attack at melee range, you get a +5 bonus on your attack roll. If you're making a ranged attack from a greater distance, you get a +2 bonus on your attack roll. If you aim to hit an immobile object, you hit automatically with a melee attack and get a +4 bonus on a ranged attack.

However, while aiming you lose your dodge bonus, and if you are struck or distracted in any way before your attack, you have to make a Concentration check to maintain your aim (see the Concentration skill in Chapter 2). This tends to make aiming melee attacks -- or ranged attacks while adjacent to an enemy -- extremely unwise.

Once you aim, your next action must be to make the attack. Taking another standard or move action spoils your aim and you lose the aiming bonus.

Attack (Standard Action)

With a standard action, you can make an attack against any opponent within the attack's range.

Shooting or Throwing into Melee: If you make a ranged attack against an opponent engaged in melee with an ally, you take a -4 penalty on your attack roll because you have to aim carefully to avoid hitting your ally. Two characters are engaged in melee if they are opponents and adjacent to one another. (An unconscious or otherwise immobilized character is not considered engaged unless he or she is actually being attacked.)

If the target is two or more size categories larger than any allies in melee, you ignore the -4 penalty. If you have the Precise Shot feat (see Precise Shot in Chapter 3) you also ignore the penalty for shooting or throwing into melee.

Attacking Objects: Objects are harder or easier to hit depending on several factors:

Held Objects: An object held by a character has a base Defense equal the holder's Defense + 5 + the object's size modifier.

Carried or Worn Objects: Objects carried or worn by a character have a base Defense equal the character's Defense + the object's size modifier.

Immobile Objects: Immobile objects have a Defense of 5 + the object's size modifier. Adjacent attacks get a +4 bonus to hit immobile objects. (If you take a full action to aim, you get an automatic hit with an adjacent attack, or a +5 bonus with a ranged attack.)

Begin/Complete Full Action (Standard Action)

This action lets you start a full action (such as those listed on the Actions in Combat Table) at the end of your turn, or complete a full action by using a standard action at the beginning of your turn the round after starting the action. If you start a full action at the end of your turn, the next action you take must be to complete it.

Charge (Full Action)

Charging allows you to move more than your speed and attack as a full action. You must move at least 10 feet and may move up to twice your speed. You must stop as soon as you are within striking range of your target (you can't run past the target and attack from another direction).

During the surprise round you can use the charge action, but you are only allowed to move up to your speed (instead of up to twice your speed). This is also true in other cases where you are limited to a single attack or move action per round.

After moving, you may make a single melee attack. You get a +2 bonus on the attack roll and also take a -2 penalty to your Defense for 1 round (until the beginning of your action the following round).

Combined Attack (Standard Action)

Multiple attackers can attempt to combine their attacks to overwhelm an opponent's defenses. The attackers must all delay to the same point in the initiative order (that of the slowest character). Each attacker makes a normal attack roll against the target. Take the largest damage bonus of the attacks that hit, and for each other attack within 5 points of that attack's bonus that hits, add +2.

Although a combined attack is similar to aiding someone (see the Aid action above) it is not the same, and bonuses applying to aid do not apply to combined attacks.

Command (Move Action)

Issuing a command to a minion or a character under of a power like Dominate requires a move action. If you want to issue different commands to different groups of minions, each one requires a move action (so you can issue two commands per round as a full action).

Concentrate (Standard Action)

Concentrating to maintain a particular effect, or focusing intently on a task, count as standard actions, meaning you cannot attack while concentrating, although you can still take move actions and free actions.

If anything happens that may disrupt your concentration, you have to make a Concentration check to maintain it. See the Concentration skill in Chapter 2 for details.

Delay (Free Action)

By choosing to delay, you act at a later point in the initiative order than your rolled initiative. When you delay, you voluntarily reduce your initiative 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 total or just wait until some time later in the round and act then, fixing your new initiative at that point.

Delaying is useful if you need to see what your friends or enemies are going to do before deciding what to do yourself. The price you pay is lost initiative. You never get back the time you spent waiting to see what was going to happen.

Delaying Limits: The lowest you can voluntarily lower your initiative is -10 minus your initiative bonus. When the initiative count reaches that point, you must act or forfeit any action for the round. For instance, a character with an initiative bonus of 3 could wait until the initiative count reached 0, then wait for it to reach -10, but would have to act on -13 or forfeit any action for the round. This is primarily an issue when multiple characters delay.

Multiple Characters Delaying: If multiple characters are delaying, the one with the highest initiative bonus (or higher Dexterity, in case of a tie) has the advantage. If two or more delaying characters want to act on the same initiative count, the one with the highest bonus goes first. If two or more delaying characters are trying to go after each other, the one with the highest initiative bonus gets to go last.

You can also Refocus (see Refocus below) to move to the top of the initiative count.

Demoralize (Standard Action)

You can make an Intimidate check to demoralize an opponent as a standard action. see Intimidate in Chapter 2 for details.

Disarm (Standard Action)

As a standard action, you may attempt to knock an item such as a weapon or device out of an opponent's hand. Make an attack roll against the defender. If you attempt to disarm with a ranged attack, you are at -4 on your attack roll. If your attack succeeds, make an opposed rolls of your attack's damage against the defender's Strength. If you win, the defender is disarmed. If you attempted the disarm action as an unarmed attack, you now have the weapon. Otherwise, the defender drops it. If you make a disarm attempt with a melee weapon and lose, the defender may immediately make an attempt to disarm you as a reaction, without an attack roll.

Distract (Standard Action)

Characters with the Distract feat can make a Bluff or Intimidate check to daze an opponent as a standard action. See the feat's description for details.

Drop an Item (Free Action)

Dropping a held item is a free action (although dropping or throwing an item with the intention of accurately hitting something is a standard action).

Drop Prone (Free Action)

Dropping to a prone position is a free action, although getting up requires a move action (unless you have the Instant Up feat).

Feint (Standard Action)

You can make a Bluff check to feint as a standard action. see Bluff in Chapter 2 for details.

Grapple (Standard Action)

Grappling is wrestling and struggling hand-to-hand. It's tricky, but it can be useful to pin a foe rather than simply pummeling him unconscious.

Grapple Checks: Repeatedly in a grapple, you need to make an opposed grapple check against an opponent. A grapple check is like a melee attack roll. Your attack bonus on a grapple check is: attack bonus + Strength modifier + size modifier

Size Modifier: Your size modifier for a grapple check is +4 for every size category you are above Medium-size or -4 for every size category you are below Medium-size. Like all size modifiers this one cancels out so opponents of the same size grapple each other normally.

To start a grapple, you first need to grab and hold your target. Make a melee attack to grab the target. If you don't hit the target, you fail to start the grapple. Once you hit, you have grabbed your opponent. Make an opposed grapple check. If you lose, the target is not grappled. If you succeed, you can apply one of the following effects:

While you're grappling, your ability to attack others and defend yourself is limited. You lose your dodge bonus to Defense against opponents you aren't grappling. You can still use it against opponents you are grappling.

You can use powers while grappling, subject to the requirements of the grapple. If you use a power requiring a standard action, you forfeit your grapple check that round (meaning you automatically lose the opposed grapple check). This may be worth it if the power helps you get out of the grapple or otherwise deals with your opponent. The Narrator may require a Concentration check (see Concentration in Chapter 2) to use some powers while grappled.

Multiple Grapplers: Several combatants can be in a single grapple. Up to four can grapple a single opponent of the same size. Opponents one size category smaller than you count for half, opponents one size category larger than you count double, and opponents two or more size categories larger count quadruple. So if you're medium-sized, eight small, four medium, two large, or a single huge opponent can grapple you. In the same way, four small opponents (counting as two opponents) plus one large opponent (counting as two opponents) can grapple you. Additional grapplers can aid their friends with the aid action, granting a +2 bonus to that character's grapple checks for the round.

Manipulate Object (Move Action)

In most cases, moving or manipulating an object is a move action. This includes drawing or holstering a weapon, retrieving or putting away a stored object, picking up an object, moving a heavy object, and opening a door.

Mental Grapple (Standard Action)

Characters with Mind Touch (see Mind Touch in Chapter 4) can grapple an opponent mentally rather than physically, a struggle of mind against mind. Mental grappling uses the same system as physical grappling, with the following differences:

Move (Move Action)

The simplest move action is moving your speed. Many nonstandard modes of movement are also covered under this category, including climbing and swimming (up to one-quarter the character's speed), and crawling (up to 5 feet).

Move All Out (Full Action)

You can move all out as a full action. When you do so, you move up to four times your speed in a fairly straight line. You can move all out for a number of rounds equal to your Constitution score. After that you must succeed at a Constitution check (Difficulty 10) to continue moving all out. You must check again each round, and the Difficulty increases by +1 for each check. When you fail a check, you become fatigued and must drop to an accelerated or normal pace (see Fatigue in Chapter 6).

Overrun (Standard Action)

You can attempt an overrun as a standard action following a move action or as part of a charge. With an overrun, you plow past, or over, your opponent (and move through his area) as you move. You can only make one overrun attempt per action.

First, you must move at least 10 feet in a straight line toward your target. The target chooses to avoid or block you. If he avoids you, you keep moving, since you can always move through an area occupied by someone who lets you pass. If he blocks you, make a trip attack against him (see Trip in Chapter 6). If you succeed in tripping your opponent, you can continue your movement as normal.

If you fail and are tripped in return, you fall prone. If you fail but are not tripped, you have to move 5 feet back the way you came, ending your movement there (essentially, you stop directly in front of your opponent). If that space is occupied, you fall prone as well.

Ready (Standard Action)

Readying lets you prepare to take an action later, after you would normally act on your initiative, but before your initiative on your next turn. Readying is a standard action, so you can move as well.

You can ready a single standard or move action. To do so, specify the action you will take and the circumstances under which you will take it. Then, any time before your next action, you may take the readied action as a reaction to those circumstances. For the rest of the fight, your initiative result is the count on which you took the readied action.

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 readied action, you don't get to take the readied action (though you can ready the same action again).

Refocus (Full Action)

Refocus is a full action during which you cannot move. You do nothing that round except refocus your attention and appraise the situation.

On the following round, you move up in the initiative order and are positioned as though you rolled a 20 on your initiative check. The usual modifiers to Initiative checks apply to your new initiative total.

Rush (Standard Action)

You can attempt a rush as a standard action made after a move action, or as part of a charge. (You normally can't make a standard action during a move action; this is an exception.) When you rush, you attempt to push an opponent straight back instead of damaging them.

First, you move adjacent to your target. You and the target make opposed Strength checks. If you and the target are different sizes, the larger one gets a +4 bonus per difference in size category. The target gets a +4 bonus for having more than two legs or being otherwise exceptionally stable.

If you win the opposed Strength check, you push the opponent back 5 feet per point your result exceeds your opponent's. You can't, however, exceed your normal movement speed, so any additional distance is ignored.

If you lose, you move 5 feet back the way you came, ending your movement there (essentially, you stop directly in front of your opponent). If that space is occupied, you also fall prone.

Speak (Free Action)

In general, speaking is a free action. Some Narrators may limit the amount you can say during your turn, although character can generally say quite a bit in the midst of combat. Issuing orders to followers in combat is a move action.

Stand Up (Move Action)

Standing up from a prone position requires a move action.

Taunt (Standard Action)

With the Taunt feat (see Taunt in Chapter 3), you can make a Bluff check to demoralize an opponent as a standard action. By taking a -5 penalty on the check, you can attempt to taunt as a move action.

Total Defense (Standard Action)

Instead of attacking, you can use your standard action to avoid attacks that round. You don't get to attack or perform any other standard action, but you get a +4 to your dodge or parry bonus for the round.

Trick (Standard Action)

You can make a Bluff check (see Bluff in Chapter 2) to trick an opponent as a standard action.

Trip (Standard Action)

You can try to trip an opponent as a melee attack. Make a melee attack roll. If the attack succeeds, make a Strength or Dexterity check opposed by the defender's Strength, Dexterity, or Acrobatics check (use whichever ability has the higher modifier in each case). A combatant gets a +4 bonus for each size category exceeding medium or a -4 penalty for each size category smaller than medium (these size modifiers cancel out for opponents of the same size). The defender gets a +4 stability bonus on the check if he has more than two legs or is otherwise more stable than a normal humanoid. If you win, you trip the defender. If you lose, the defender may react immediately by trying to trip you with no need for an attack roll. If you have the Improved Trip feat (see Improved Trip in Chapter 3), the defender doesn't get an opportunity to trip you.

A tripped character is prone, suffering a -4 penalty on melee attack rolls. Prone characters have -4 Defense against attacks from adjacent opponents and +4 Defense against ranged attacks. Standing up from a prone position is a move action. A trip attack may have other effects depending on the situation; for example, tripping an opponent on a narrow ledge or the edge of a cliff may cause the opponent to fall (the Narrator can allow a Difficulty 15 Reflex save to grab the edge of the precipice at the last moment).


Free Actions Standard Actions
Drop an Item
Drop Prone
Begin/Complete Full Action
Combined Attack
Total Defense
Move Actions
Manipulate an Object
Stand Up
Full Actions
Move All Out

Miscellaneous Actions

For actions not covered in any of this material, the Narrator determines how long the action takes.


Most uses of skills in a combat situation are standard actions, but some might be move or full actions. The description of a skill provides the time required to use it. see Chapter 2.


Certain feats allow you to take special actions in combat. Other feats are not actions in themselves, but grant a bonus when attempting something you can already do. Some feats aren't meant for use within the framework of combat. The individual feat descriptions tell you what you need to know about them. see Chapter 3.


You can spend Conviction to use a full action to recover from damage in combat (see Conviction in Chapter 1).

Combat Modifiers

This section covers various maneuvers and situations affecting combat and how it plays out.


Generally speaking, any situational modifier created by the attacker's position or tactics applies to the attack roll, while any situational modifier created by the defender's position, state, or tactics applies to the defender's Defense. The Narrator judges what bonuses and penalties apply, using the Combat Modifiers Table as a guideline.


Taking cover behind a wall, tree, or other obstacle provides a +4 bonus to Defense. Cover is measured relative to the attacker. For example, hiding behind a low wall provides no cover against an opponent hovering above you, but does provide cover against an opponent on the other side of the wall.

Cover and Reflex Saves: Cover grants you a +2 bonus on Reflex saves against attacks originating from a point on the other side of the cover from you.

Cover and Stealth Checks: You can use cover to make a Stealth check to avoid being seen. Without cover, you need concealment (see Concealment later in this chapter) to make a Stealth check.

Total Cover: If you cannot draw a line between you and a target without intersecting cover, the target has total cover. You can't make an attack against a target with total cover.

Varying Degrees of Cover: In some cases, cover may provide a greater bonus to Defense and Reflex saves. In such situations the normal cover bonuses to Defense and Reflex saves can be doubled (to +8 and +4, respectively). A creature with this improved cover gains a +10 bonus on Stealth checks.

Striking Cover: If it ever becomes important to know whether the cover was actually hit by an incoming attack, the Narrator should determine if the attack roll would have hit the protected target without the cover. If the attack roll falls within a range low enough to miss the target with cover but high enough to hit the target if there had been no cover, the cover is hit. This can be particularly important to know in cases when a character uses another character as cover.

In such a case, if the cover is struck and the attack roll exceeds the Defense of the covering character, the covering character takes the damage intended for the target. If the attack roll is lower than the Defense of the covering character, but higher than the Defense of the covered character, the original target is hit instead. The covering character avoided the attack and didn't provide cover after all! Covering characters can voluntarily lower defense bonus to ensure they provide cover.


Concealment includes circumstances where nothing physically blocks an attack, but something interferes with the attacker's accuracy. Typically, concealment is provided by things like fog, smoke, shadows, darkness, foliage, and so forth.

Concealment Miss Chance: Concealment gives the subject of a successful attack a 20% chance (a roll of 17 or higher on d20) the attacker missed because of the concealment. If the attack roll hits, the defender makes a miss chance roll to avoid being struck. Multiple concealment conditions do not stack.

Concealment and Stealth Checks: You can use concealment to make a Stealth check to avoid being seen. Without concealment, you usually need cover to make a Stealth check.

Total Concealment: A target you cannot perceive with any of your accurate senses has total concealment from you. You can't directly attack an opponent with total concealment, though you can attack into the area you think he occupies. A successful attack into an area occupied by a target with total concealment has a 50% miss chance (a d20 roll of 11 or higher).

Ignoring Concealment: Concealment isn't always effective. Characters with night Vision can see clearly for a greater distance with the same light source than other characters, for example.

Finesse Attack

Most attacks rely on power to overcome the toughness of a target's armor. Finesse attacks target the weak points of an opponent's defenses. Characters can make finesse attacks with melee weapons. Characters with the Improved Precise Shot feat (see Improved Precise Shot in Chapter 3) can also make finesse attacks with ranged weapons, so long as they are within one range increment of their target.

To make a finesse attack, increase the Difficulty of your attack roll by an amount equal to the Toughness bonus of your opponent's armor. If your attack hits, the target does not get the armor's bonus on the Toughness save. The attack bypasses it altogether. If your attack roll fails, however, your attack glances harmlessly off the target's armor or (if you would have missed the target's normal Defense) misses entirely.

Ganging Up

Typically, up to eight attackers can gang up on an individual target, provided they have room to maneuver. If the defender can fight side by side with allies, back into a corner, fight through a doorway, and so forth, attackers can't gang up as easily. Picture the eight attackers as evenly spaced out surrounding the defender.

The defender can reduce the opportunity for attackers to gang up based on how much of the area around himself he can block off. Backed against a wall, a character only allows five attackers to get at him. Backed into a corner, only three attackers can get at him at a time. If the defender is standing in a doorway, the opponent in front of him can attack normally and one opponent on either side can attack as well, but the defender benefits from cover (see Cover, above). If the defender is fighting in a 5- foot-wide corridor, only one attacker can get at him (unless attackers are coming at him from both directions).

The above rules are for medium and small characters. Larger characters present room for more attackers to get at them and combatants with ranged weapons can get at defenders more easily.

Helpless Defenders

A helpless foe -- bound, sleeping, unconscious, or otherwise at your mercy -- is an easy target. You sometimes can approach a target unawares and treat the opponent as helpless if the Narrator allows.

Regular Attack: A helpless character loses any dodge bonus and takes a -9 penalty to Defense against attacks from adjacent opponents, and a -5 penalty to Defense against ranged attacks.

Coup de Grace: As a full-round action, you can deliver a coup de grace to a helpless opponent adjacent to you. You automatically hit and score a critical hit. If the defender takes damage but is not knocked out or dying, he must make a Fortitude save (Difficulty 10 + damage bonus) or be knocked out (for a non-lethal attack) or dying (for a lethal attack). You can't deliver a coup de grace against a target immune to critical hits. You can deliver a coup de grace against a target with total concealment, but doing this requires two consecutive full-round actions (one to feel around and accurately perceive the target and another to deliver the coup de grace).


Minions are minor characters subject to special rules in combat, and generally easier to defeat than normal characters. The following rules apply to minions:

Mounted Combat

Mounts in Combat: Your mount acts on your initiative as you direct it. You move at its speed, but the mount uses its action to move. (You can take move actions, like drawing your weapon, normally.) Without you to guide it, your mount avoids combat.

Combat while Mounted: With a Difficulty 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 who is smaller than your mount and 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 single melee attack if you are wielding two weapons (see Two-Weapon Fighting in Chapter 6). Essentially, you have to wait until the mount gets to your enemy before attacking, so you can't make an attack requiring a full-round action.

If your mount charges you also take the -2 Defense 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 mounted, you deal +3 damage with a lance.

You can use ranged weapons while your mount is taking a double move, but at a -4 penalty on the attack roll. You can use ranged weapons while your mount is moving all out as well, but at a -8 penalty. In either case, you make the attack roll when your mount has completed half its movement.

Using Powers while Mounted: You can use powers normally if your mount moves up to a normal move (its speed) either before or after you use the power. If you have your mount move both before and after you use a power, then you have to make a Concentration check due to the vigorous motion (Difficulty 10) to successfully use the power. If the mount is moving all out, you can use powers when the mount has moved up to twice its speed, but your Concentration check is Difficulty 15.

If Your Mount Falls in Battle: If your mount falls, you have to succeed on a Difficulty 15 Ride check to make a soft fall and take no damage. If the check fails, you take +2 lethal damage.

If You Are Dropped: If you are knocked unconscious, you have a 50 percent chance (a roll of 11 or better) to stay in the saddle (6 or better if you're in a military saddle). Otherwise you fall and take +2 lethal damage.


Sometimes you need to attack or break an object, such as when you want to strike an opponent's weapon or break down a door.

Striking an Object: Objects are easier to hit than characters because they usually don't move, but many are tough enough to shrug off damage.

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

Held Objects: An object held by a character has a base Defense equal the character's Defense + 5 + the object's size modifier. Objects use the same size modifiers as creatures (see the table Size Modifier to Combat Bonus in Chapter 6).

Carried or Worn Objects: Objects carried or worn by a character have a base Defense equal to the character's Defense + the object's size modifier.

Immobile Objects: Immobile objects have a Defense of 5 + the object's size modifier. Adjacent attacks get a +4 bonus to hit immobile objects. (If you take a full-round action to aim, you get an automatic hit with an adjacent attack or a +5 bonus with a ranged attack.)

Ineffective Attacks: The Narrator may determine certain attacks just can't effectively damage certain objects. For example, you will have a hard time breaking open an iron door with a knife or cutting a rope with a club. In these cases, the Narrator may rule that you inflict no damage to the object at all.

Effective Attacks: The Narrator may rule certain attacks are especially effective against some objects. For example, it's easy to light a curtain on fire or rip a piece of cloth. In these cases, the Narrator may increase your damage bonus against the object (or apply a penalty to its Toughness save) or simply say the object is automatically destroyed by a successful attack.

Toughness: Each object has a Toughness score representing how well it resists damage. An object's Toughness works like a character's Toughness. To determine how much damage an object takes from an attack, roll d20 + Toughness against a Difficulty of 10 + the attack's damage bonus. The Toughness scores given on the Substance Toughness table are for approximately 1 inch of the material. Heavier objects increase their Toughness by +1 per doubling in thickness, so a foot-thick stone wall has a Toughness of 12 (base Toughness 8, +4 for approximately four doubling of thickness). Characters can attempt to break through heavier objects a little at a time, rather than all at once, such as chipping away at a stone wall inch by inch.

Damage to Objects: Objects suffer both non-lethal and lethal damage as lethal, but ignore non-lethal damage with a bonus less than their Toughness. A "wounded" object is damaged and suffers a 1 point reduction in Toughness. A "disabled" object is badly damaged. Disabled equipment and devices no longer function, while disabled barriers have holes punched through them. A "dying" object is destroyed. Damaged and disabled objects can be repaired. It's up to the Narrator whether or not a destroyed object is repairable; if it is, the Difficulty of the Craft check is the same as for creating an entirely new item.


Substance Toughness
Paper -10
Glass 0
Ice 0
Paper 0
Rope 0
Soil 2
Wood 5
Stone 8
Iron 10
Steel 15

Breaking Items: In the case of a character trying to break something outright, such as smashing down a door or snapping bonds, make a Strength check with a Difficulty of 20 + the object's Toughness. Success destroys the object, while failure does no damage. The only difference between this and attacking an object is the character can't slowly wear down an object's Toughness in this way.

Surprise Attack

An attack may come from an unexpected quarter. An attack that catches the target off-guard in some way is called a surprise attack. To make a surprise attack, you must catch your target unawares. You can make a surprise attack in the following situations:

Characters with the Uncanny Dodge feat (see Uncanny Dodge in Chapter 3) cannot be surprise attacked so long as they are capable of taking free actions (not stunned or helpless).

The target of a surprise attack loses any dodge bonus to Defense against the attack and suffers an additional -2 Defense penalty.

Two-Weapon Fighting

If you wield a second melee weapon in your off hand, you get one extra attack with that weapon when you take a full-round action to attack. Fighting this way is difficult, however, and you suffer a -6 penalty with your regular attack and a -10 penalty to the attack with your off-hand weapon. If the off-hand weapon is light, reduce the penalty by 2 (to -4 and -8, respectively). If you have the Two-Weapon Fighting feat, reduce the penalty to -4 for each attack (-2 if the off-hand weapon is a light weapon). The same rules apply to throwing a weapon from each hand.


Attack Modifier

Attacker is... Melee Ranged
Dazzled -1 -1
Entangled -2 -2
On higher ground +1 +0
Prone -4 +0
Shaken -2 -2
Sickened -2 -2

Defense Modifier

Defender is... Melee Ranged Dodge Bonus?
Behind cover +4 +4 Yes
Blinded -2 -2 No
Concealed Special Special Yes
Entangled -2 -2 No
Flat-footed +0 +0 No
Grappling +0 +0 No
Helpless -9 -4 No
Kneeling or sitting -2 +2 Yes
Moving all out * * No
Pinned -4 -4 No
Prone -4 +4 Yes
Stunned -2 -2 No
Surprised -2 -2 No
Using Total Defense +4 +4 Yes


Concealment Example Miss Chance
Partial Fog; moderate darkness; foliage; precipitation 17 or higher
Total Total darkness; invisibility; attacker blind; dense fog 11 or higher

Damage and Recovery

Anyone hit with a damaging attack makes a Toughness saving throw. This is a roll of d20 plus Toughness, which measures the ability to avoid or shrug off damage. Resisting damage has a base Difficulty of 15 plus a modifier equal to the attack's damage bonus. For unarmed attacks, this is the attacker's Strength score. For weapons, this is the weapon's damage plus the attacker's Strength score. For example, an attacker with Strength +1, wielding a short sword (damage modifier +2) has a total damage modifier of +3. So, resisting this damage is Difficulty 18 (15 + 3).

Toughness Saving Throw = d20 + Constitution score + feats + armor versus Difficulty 15 + attack's damage bonus

If the Toughness saving throw succeeds, the target suffers no significant damage, nothing more than a slight scratch, bruise, or torn clothing. If the Toughness save fails, the target suffers damage. How much damage depends on the type of attack (lethal or non-lethal) and the amount the Toughness save result is below the Difficulty.

Non-lethal Damage comes from unarmed attacks (punches and kicks), as well as specific non-lethal weapons, like saps.

A failed Toughness save against a non-lethal attack means the target is bruised. Each bruised result imposes a -1 penalty on further saves against non-lethal damage, but does not affect saves against lethal damage. If the Toughness save fails by 5 or more, the target is dazed; mark down a dazed condition on the Damage Track. A dazed condition also imposes a -1 modifier on further saves against non-lethal damage. If the Toughness save fails by 10 or more, the target is staggered; check off the staggered box on the Damage Track. If the Toughness save fails by 15 or more, the target is unconscious; check off the unconscious box on the Damage Track. If a target suffers a result that is already checked off, check off the next highest result, so if a target is already staggered and suffers another staggered result, check off the unconscious box. If the unconscious box is checked and the character suffers more non-lethal damage, check off the first available lethal box (so go to wounded, disabled, and so forth).

Lethal Damage is inflicted by weapons, from cutting and piercing weapons like swords and spears to heavy bludgeoning weapons like hammers and maces.

A failed Toughness save against a lethal attack means the target is hurt. Each hurt result imposes a -1 penalty on further Toughness saves. If the Toughness save fails by 5 or more, the target is wounded; mark down a wounded condition on the Damage Track. A wounded result also imposes a -1 modifier on further Toughness saves. If the Toughness save fails by 10 or more, the target is disabled; check off the disabled box on the Damage Track. If the Toughness save fails by 15 or more, the target is dying; check off the dying box on the Damage Track. If a target suffers a result that is already checked off, check off the next highest result, so if a target is already wounded and suffers another wounded result, check off the disabled box. If that's already checked off, check off the dying box.

Collateral Damage: Lethal damage inflicts non-lethal damage as well. Whenever your hero suffers lethal damage, check off the corresponding non-lethal damage, so a hero who is wounded is also dazed, a hero who is hurt is also bruised. The effects of the damage conditions are cumulative, except for bruised and hurt conditions, where only the highest value applies.


0 5+ 10+ 15+
Bruised Dazed Staggered Unconscious
[    ] [    ] [    ]
[    ] [    ] [    ] [    ]
Hurt Wounded Disabled Dying Dead

Impossible Toughness Saves: If the Difficulty of a Toughness save is so high the hero cannot possibly succeed, even with a 20 on the die roll, the Toughness save is still rolled to determine the effect (the amount by which the character misses the Difficulty). A natural 20 means the character is only bruised or hurt, regardless of the Difficulty. Fate intervenes to spare the character from otherwise certain doom. Narrators interested in realistic consequences for damage should ignore this rule.

Critical Hits: A critical hit (see Critical Hits previously in this chapter) increases an attack's damage bonus, meaning critical hits can inflict serious damage.

Toughness generally does not improve as characters gain levels, with the exception of feats like Defensive Roll and Great Toughness, which provide Toughness save bonuses, but at the expense of not being able to take other feats. More experienced (high-level) heroes generally avoid harm more through Defense bonuses (the ability to dodge or parry attacks), improvements in their Fortitude, Reflex, and Will saving throws (which ward off many other forms of harm), and the ability to spend more Conviction on poor Toughness saves.

This creates a scenario where even experienced characters may fall victim to a bad Toughness save against an attack. If you want higher-level characters to be literally tougher, you can assign a Toughness save bonus based on role and level equal to the character's base Combat bonus. So a warrior, for example, gets a +1 Toughness bonus per level (the same as the warrior's Combat bonus).

This option helps with character longevity, but may produce less realistic results as high-level heroes become nigh invulnerable to smaller attacks, so it depends on the style of game you want to have. The default rule is a largely fixed Toughness bonus based solely on Constitution and any modifying feats or worn armor.

Damage Conditions

Damaged characters can suffer from any of seven conditions, given on the Damage Track and described here.

Dazed characters lose one full-round action after suffering a dazed result; they can take no actions, but retain their normal Defense. The following round, they can act normally.

Staggered characters lose one full-round action after suffering a staggered result. They can take no actions, lose their dodge bonus to Defense, and have a -2 penalty to Defense. In the following rounds, staggered characters can only take a standard or a move action, not both.

Unconscious characters pass out and are helpless, unable to do anything until they awaken.

Wounded characters are shaken, suffering a -2 penalty on all checks, including attack rolls and Fortitude, Reflex, and Will saving throws. This persists until all wounded conditions are eliminated. Additionally, a wounded character is stunned for one round after being wounded. They can take no actions, lose their dodge bonus to Defense, and have a -2 penalty to Defense.

Disabled characters are badly injured. If a disabled character takes a standard action, he falls unconscious and begins dying on the following round.

Dying characters have to make a Constitution check (Difficulty 10) at the beginning of each round. On a failed check, the character dies. On a successful check, the character lives for another round (and must make a check the following round). If the check succeeds by 10 or more (Difficulty 20), the character's condition becomes disabled and unconscious.

Dead characters are, well, dead. This usually means the end for the character; although, some powerful healers can restore life to the recently deceased.

Recovery: Recovering from damage requires a Constitution check (Difficulty 10). A successful check erases the damage condition, while an unsuccessful check means there is no significant improvement for that time period.

You can make a recovery check once per minute for staggered and unconscious, once per hour for wounded, and once per day for disabled. Dying has its own particular check; once you are stable, dying becomes unconscious and disabled, which you recover from normally (one minute for unconscious, one day for disabled).

You can spend a Conviction point to get an immediate recovery check from non-lethal damage, rather than having to wait a minute. You can also spend Conviction on your recovery check, ensuring success (since Conviction always grants you a roll of 10).

Bruised and dazed conditions fade automatically at a rate of one per minute. Hurt conditions do the same at a rate of one per hour. You can spend a Conviction point to immediately erase all bruised, dazed, and hurt conditions after, not during, a conflict.


Characters can suffer from fatigue as well as damage. This usually results from tasks requiring great effort, such as moving all out, exertion in difficult environments, and using powers. There are three fatigue levels: winded, fatigued, and exhausted.

Winded: The character suffers a -1 penalty to effective Strength and Dexterity and cannot move all out or charge. A winded character who suffers an additional fatigue result becomes fatigued.

Fatigued: The character cannot move all out or charge and suffers a -2 penalty to effective Strength and Dexterity. A fatigued character who suffers an additional fatigue result becomes exhausted.

Exhausted: The character is near collapse. Exhausted characters move at half normal speed and suffer a -3 penalty to effective Strength and Dexterity. An exhausted character who suffers an additional fatigue result falls unconscious (and must recover from it normally; see Damage Conditions).

Recovery: Every hour of rest, a hero makes a Constitution check (Difficulty 10) to recover from fatigue. Success reduces the character's fatigue condition by one level (from exhausted to fatigued, from fatigued to winded, winded to normal). A full ten hours of rest allows any character to completely recover from all fatigue conditions.

Condition Summary

This section describes the different adverse conditions that can affect characters. If multiple conditions apply to a character, apply all of their effects. If effects conflict, apply the most severe.

Ability Damaged: The character has temporarily lost 1 or more ability score points. Lost ability score points return at a rate of 1 per day.

Blinded: The character cannot see at all, and thus everything has total visual concealment from him. He has a 50% chance to miss in combat, loses his dodge bonus to Defense, and suffers an additional -2 modifier to Defense. He moves at half speed and suffers a -4 penalty on most Strength and Dexterity-based skill checks. He cannot make Notice (spot) skill checks or perform any other activity (such as reading) requiring vision.

Bruised: The character has suffered some minor damage. Each bruised condition imposes a -1 penalty on Toughness saves to resist further nonlethal damage.

Dazed: A dazed character can take no actions, but retains dodge bonus to Defense.

Dead: The character is dead. A dead body generally decays, but effects allowing a character to come back from death restore the body to full health or to its condition immediately prior to death. Either way, characters that have come back from the dead needn't worry about rigor mortis, decomposition, and other similar sorts of unpleasantness.

Deafened: A deafened character cannot hear and suffers a -4 penalty to initiative checks. He cannot make Notice (listen) checks.

Debilitated: The character has one or more ability scores lowered below -5. A character with debilitated Strength falls prone and is helpless. A character with debilitated Dexterity is paralyzed. A character with debilitated Constitution is dying. A character with debilitated Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma is unconscious.

Disabled: A disabled character is conscious and able to act but badly injured. He can take only a single attack or move action each round, and if he performs any strenuous action, his condition changes to dying after the completing the action. Strenuous actions include moving all out, attacking, or using any ability requiring physical exertion or mental concentration.

Dying: A dying character is unconscious and near death. Upon gaining this condition the character must immediately make a Fortitude save (Difficulty 10). If the save fails, the character dies.

Dying characters make this save each hour thereafter, with a cumulative +1 to the Difficulty for every hour they remain dying. If the save succeeds by 10 or more or the roll is a natural 20, the character automatically stabilizes and becomes unconscious and disabled (and may recover from both conditions normally). Another character can stabilize a dying character with a successful Heal check (Difficulty 15) or through the use of the Cure power (see Cure in Chapter 4).

Entangled: An entangled character suffers a -2 penalty to attack rolls, a -2 penalty to Defense, and a -4 penalty to effective Dexterity. If the bonds are anchored to an immobile object, the entangled character cannot move. Otherwise, he can move at half speed, but can't move all out or charge. An already entangled character that is entangled again becomes helpless.

Exhausted: Exhausted characters are near collapse. They move at half normal speed and suffer a -6 penalty to effective Strength and Dexterity. An exhausted character suffering another fatigue result falls unconscious (and must recover from it normally).

Fascinated: Entranced by an effect. A fascinated character stands or sits, taking no actions other than to pay attention to the fascinating effect, for as long as the effect lasts. The character takes a -4 penalty on checks made as reactions, such as Notice checks. Any potential threat allows the fascinated character a new saving throw or resistance check to overcome the fascination. Any obvious threat, such as someone drawing a weapon or aiming an attack at the fascinated character, automatically breaks the fascination. An ally can shake a fascinated character free of the effect with an aid action.

Fatigued: Fatigued characters cannot move all out or charge and suffer a -2 penalty to effective Strength and Dexterity. A fatigued character who does something else that would normally cause fatigue becomes exhausted.

Flat-Footed: A character who has not yet acted during a combat is flatfooted, not yet reacting to the situation. A flat-footed character loses his dodge bonus to Defense.

Frightened: A frightened character tries to flee from the source of the fear as quickly as possible. If unable to flee, the character is shaken.

Grappled: Engaged in wrestling or some other form of hand-to-hand struggle with one or more attackers. A grappled character cannot move or take any action more complicated than making a barehanded attack, using a small weapon, or attempting to break free from the grapple. In addition, grappled characters lose any dodge bonus against opponents they aren't grappling.

Helpless: Sleeping, bound, paralyzed or unconscious characters are helpless. Enemies can make advantageous attacks against helpless characters, or even deliver a coup de grace. A melee attack against a helpless character is at a +4 bonus on the attack roll (equivalent to attacking a prone target). A ranged attack gets no special bonus. A helpless character's Defense score is 5, the same as an inanimate object.

Incorporeal: Having no physical body. Incorporeal characters are immune to attacks from corporeal sources. They can be harmed only by other incorporeal beings or supernatural attacks.

Injured: The character has suffered minor damage. Each injured condition imposes a -1 penalty on Toughness saves to resist further lethal damage.

Invisible: Virtually undetectable. Invisible characters gain a +2 bonus to hit defenders unaware of them, and such defenders lose their dodge bonus to Defense. Attacks against invisible characters have a 50% miss chance.

Nauseated: Nauseated characters can only take a single move action each round, meaning they are unable to attack (or take other standard actions) or move all out (or take other full-round actions).

Normal: The character is unharmed and unaffected by other conditions, acting normally.

Panicked: A panicked character flees as fast as possible or cowers, dazed, if unable to get away. A panicked character defends normally but cannot attack.

Paralyzed: A paralyzed character stands rigid and helpless, unable to move or act physically. He has effective Strength and Dexterity scores of 0 but may take purely mental actions. A paralyzed character's Defense score is 5, the same as an inanimate object.

Pinned: Held immobile (but not helpless) in a grapple. Pinned characters lose their dodge bonus and suffer a -4 penalty to Defense.

Prone: The character is lying on the ground. He suffers a -4 penalty on melee attack rolls. Opponents receive a +4 bonus on melee attacks against him but a -4 penalty on ranged attacks. Standing up is a move action.

Shaken: A shaken character has a -2 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, and checks.

Sickened: A sickened character has a -2 penalty on attack rolls and checks.

Slowed: A slowed character can only take a standard or move action each round (not both). The character takes a -1 penalty on attack rolls, Defense, and Reflex saves. A slowed character moves at half normal speed.

Stable: A stable character is no longer dying, but is still unconscious and disabled and must recover from those conditions normally.

Staggered: A staggered character can take a single move or standard action each round, not both. Any further damage to a staggered character shifts the character's condition to unconscious.

Stunned: The character loses any dodge bonus to Defense, takes a -2 modifier to Defense, and cannot take actions other than reactions.

Unconscious: Knocked out and helpless.

Winded: A winded character suffers a -1 penalty to effective Strength and Dexterity and cannot move all out or charge. A winded character suffering an additional fatigue result becomes fatigued.

Hazards and the Environment

Heroes may encounter any number of dangerous environments and hazards in their travels. This section looks at these hazards and how to handle them in game terms.


Corrosive acids deal +4 damage per round of exposure, except in the case of total immersion (such as into a vat of acid), which deals +20 damage per round. An attack with acid, such as from a hurled vial or a monster's acidic spittle, counts as a round of exposure.

The fumes from most acids are poisonous. Those who come close enough to a large body of acid to dunk a creature in it must make a Difficulty 13 Fortitude save or take 1 point of Constitution damage. All such characters must make a second save 1 minute later or take another 1 point of Constitution damage.

Creatures immune to acid's caustic properties might still drown in it if they are totally immersed and need to breathe (see Suffocation, below).


An unprotected character in cold weather must make a Fortitude save (Difficulty 15, + 1 per previous check) or receive a level of fatigue. Additional failed saves cause further levels of fatigue. Once a character is unconscious, failed saves cause the character to become disabled, then dying.

Characters may make Survival checks to receive a bonus on this saving throw (see the skill's description in Chapter 2). Characters in cold weather (below 40° F) make a Fortitude save each hour. In conditions of severe cold or exposure (below 0° F), an unprotected character must make a Fortitude save once every 10 minutes. Characters in severe cold conditions wearing winter clothing only need check once per hour for cold damage.

Extreme cold (below -20° F) deals +2 lethal damage per minute in addition to requiring a Fortitude save every minute. Winter clothing makes the damage non-lethal and reduces the Fortitude save to every 10 minutes.


Characters walking on ice move slower (see Hampered Movement in Chapter 6), and the Difficulties for Acrobatics and Climb checks increase by +5. Characters in prolonged contact with ice may run the risk of taking damage from the cold.


Characters with normal vision or the Night Vision feat can be rendered completely blind by putting out the lights. Torches or lanterns can be blown out by sudden gusts of wind. Even supernatural light sources can be dispelled or countered.

For purposes of the following points, a blinded creature is one who simply can't see through the surrounding darkness.


The basic rule for falling damaging is simple: +2 damage per 10 feet fallen, to a maximum of +40 (at 200 feet).

If a character deliberately jumps instead of merely slipping or falling, the damage is the same but with a +2 bonus on the Toughness save. A Difficulty 15 Acrobatics or Jump check grants an additional +2 bonus.

Falls onto yielding surfaces (soft ground, mud) do 2 points less damage. This reduction is cumulative with Toughness save bonuses from deliberate falls and skill checks. Falls into water do 4 points less damage.

Characters who deliberately dive into water take no damage on a successful Difficulty 15 Acrobatics or Swim check, so long as the water is at least 10 feet deep for every 30 feet fallen. However, the Difficulty of the check increases by 5 for every 50 feet of the dive. A failed check results in normal falling damage.

Falling Objects

Just as characters take damage when they fall more than 10 feet, they also take damage when hit by falling objects. Objects that fall upon characters deal damage based on their weight and the distance they have fallen.

For each 100 pounds of an object's weight, the object deals +1 damage, provided it falls at least 10 feet. Distance also comes into play, adding an additional +2 damage for every 10-foot increment it falls beyond the first (to a maximum of +40 damage).

Objects smaller than 100 pounds also deal damage when dropped, but they must fall farther to deal the same damage. For every halving of weight, the object must fall for an additional 10 feet to cause +1 damage. So a 25 lb. object must fall 30 feet to inflict damage. Objects weighing less than 1 pound do not deal damage to those they land upon, no matter how far they have fallen.


An unprotected character in hot weather must make a Fortitude save (Difficulty 15, + 1 per previous check) or receive a level of fatigue. Additional failed saves cause further levels of fatigue. Once a character is unconscious, failed saves cause the character to become disabled, then dying. Characters may make Survival checks to receive a bonus on this saving throw (see the skill's description).

In very hot conditions (above 90° F), the save is once per hour. In severe heat (above 110° F), a character must make a Fortitude save once every 10 minutes. Extreme heat (air temperature over 140° F, fire, boiling water, lava) deals lethal damage. Breathing air in these temperatures deals +2 lethal damage per minute. In addition, a character must make a Fortitude save against heat exposure every 5 minutes.

Boiling water deals +2 scalding damage, unless the character is fully immersed, in which case it deals +20 damage per round.

Catching on Fire

Characters touching a fire source might find their clothes, hair, or equipment on fire. Those at risk of catching fire are allowed a Difficulty 15 Reflex save to avoid this fate. If a character's clothes or hair catch fire, he takes +2 damage immediately. In each subsequent round, the burning character must make another Reflex saving throw. Failure means he takes another +2 damage that round. Success means the fire has gone out.

A character on fire may automatically extinguish the flames by jumping into enough water to douse himself. If no body of water is at hand, rolling on the ground or smothering the fire with cloaks or the like permits the character another save with a +4 bonus.

Those unlucky enough to have their clothes or equipment catch fire must make Difficulty 15 Reflex saves for each item, using the character's Reflex save bonus. Failing the save means the item takes the same amount of damage as the character.


A character breathing heavy smoke must make a Fortitude save each round (Difficulty 15, +1 per previous check) or spend that round choking and coughing. A character who chokes for 2 consecutive rounds is winded. If accumulated fatigue renders the character unconscious, he may suffocate (see Suffocation, below).

Smoke obscures vision, giving concealment (20 percent miss chance) to characters within it.

Starvation and Dehydration

Characters might find themselves without food or water and with no means to obtain them. In normal climates, Medium characters need at least a gallon of fluids and about a pound of food per day to avoid starvation. (Small characters need half as much.) In very hot climates, characters need two or three times as much water to avoid dehydration.

A character can go without water for 36 hours plus twice his Constitution score. After this time, the character must make a Constitution check each hour (Difficulty 10, +1 for each previous check) or receive a level of fatigue. Once unconscious from fatigue, the character is disabled if he fails another Constitution check, then dying.

A character can go without food for 3 days, in growing discomfort. After this time, the character must make a Constitution check each day (Difficulty 10, +1 for each previous check) or become fatigued. Once unconscious from fatigue, the character is disabled if he fails another Constitution check, then dying.

Fatigue from thirst or starvation cannot be recovered until the character gets food or water.


A character with no air to breathe can hold her breath for 2 minutes (20 rounds), plus or minus a number of rounds equal to her Constitution score times 4. So a Constitution +2 character can hold her breath for 28 rounds, while a Constitution -2 character can only hold her breath for 12 rounds. After this period of time, the character must make a Difficulty 10 Constitution check in order to continue holding her breath. The check must be repeated each round, with the Difficulty increasing by +1 for each previous success.

When the character fails one of these Constitution checks, she begins to suffocate. In the first round, she falls unconscious. In the following round, she is dying. In the third round, she suffocates and dies.

Slow Suffocation: A Medium character can breathe easily for 6 hours in a sealed chamber measuring 10 feet on a side. After that time, the character suffers a level of fatigue every 15 minutes. Once unconscious, the character suffocates and dies. Each additional Medium character or significant fire source (a torch, for example) proportionally reduces the time the air will last. Small characters consume half as much air as Medium characters. A larger volume of air, of course, lasts for a longer time.


Any character can wade in relatively calm water that isn't over his head, no check required. Swimming in calm water only requires skill checks with a Difficulty of 10. Trained swimmers can just take 10. (Remember, however, that armor or heavy gear makes any attempt at swimming much more difficult.)

By contrast, fast-moving water is much more dangerous. On a successful Difficulty 15 Swim check, it deals +0 non-lethal damage per round. On a failed check, the character must make another check that round to avoid going under.

Very deep water is not only generally pitch black, posing a navigational hazard, but worse, it deals +2 water pressure damage per minute for every 100 feet the character is below the surface. A successful Fortitude save (Difficulty 15, +1 for each previous check) means the diver takes no damage in that minute. Very cold water deals also deals cold damage (see Cold).

Drowning: Air-breathers under water must hold their breath to avoid suffocation (see Suffocation, above).