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Hills Terrain

A hill can exist in most other types of terrain, but hills can also dominate the landscape. Hills terrain is divided into two categories: gentle hills and rugged hills.

Hills terrain often serves as a transition zone between rugged terrain such as mountains and flat terrain such as plains.

Hills Category
Gentle Hills Rugged Hills
Gradual slope 75% 40%
Steep slope 20% 50%
Cliff 5% 10%
Light undergrowth 15% 15%

Gradual Slope: This incline isn’t steep enough to affect movement, but characters gain a +1 bonus on melee attacks against foes downhill from them.

Steep Slope: Characters moving uphill (to an adjacent square of higher elevation) must spend 2 squares of movement to enter each square of steep slope. Characters running or charging downhill (moving to an adjacent square of lower elevation) must succeed on a DC 10 Acrobatics check upon entering the first steep slope square. Mounted characters make a DC 10 Ride check instead. Characters who fail this check stumble and must end their movement 1d2 × 5 feet later. Characters who fail by 5 or more fall prone in the square where they end their movement. A steep slope increases the DC of Acrobatics checks by 2.

Cliff: A cliff typically requires a DC 15 Climb check to scale and is 1d4 × 10 feet tall, although the needs of your map might mandate a taller cliff. A cliff isn’t perfectly vertical, taking up 5-foot squares if it’s less than 30 feet tall and 10-foot squares if it’s 30 feet or taller.

Light Undergrowth: Sagebrush and other scrubby bushes grow on hills, although they rarely cover the landscape. Light undergrowth provides concealment and increases the DC of Acrobatics and Stealth checks by 2.

Other Hills Terrain Elements: Trees aren’t out of place in hills terrain, and valleys often have active streams (5 to 10 feet wide and no more than 5 feet deep) or dry streambeds (treat as a trench 5 to 10 feet across) in them. If you add a stream or streambed, remember that water always flows downhill.

Stealth and Detection in Hills: In gentle hills, the maximum distance at which a Perception check for detecting the nearby presence of others can succeed is 2d10 × 10 feet. In rugged hills, this distance is 2d6 × 10 feet.

Hiding in hills terrain can be difficult if there isn’t undergrowth around. A hilltop or ridge provides enough cover to hide from anyone below the hilltop or ridge.

Common Hills Hazards

Bad Weather

Bad weather can range from minor precipitation to a serious storm. The weather can include lightning strikes and cause floods, landslides, and other natural hazards.


Whether from a lack of water, a plague, or hostile magic, the plants and wildlife in the area are suffering. a blight lasts for 1d4+2 weeks. During a blight, Survival DCs to get along in the wild increase by +5.

Dust Devil

A dust devil is a whirlwind not associated with a storm, particularly in a region with little or no topsoil. Treat a dust devil as a duststorm, sandstorm, or tornado.

Grass Fire

Grass fires are often caused by lightning or careless camp fires. A grass fire is similar to a forest fire, except it can be spotted at twice the normal distance, and a PC caught in its area saves against heat damage only every 10 rounds.

Volcanic Tremors

Though active volcanoes are rare, even dormant volcanoes can produce tremors. Tremors last anywhere from 1d4 rounds to 2d6 minutes and increase Climb DCs by 2. The tremors might start an avalanche or collapse a cave or cliff (similar to an earthquake spell).