Common Terms

This game uses a number of terms, abbreviations, and definitions in presenting the rules of the game. The following are among the most common.

5-foot Step

You can move 5 feet in any round when you don’t perform any other kind of movement. Taking this 5-foot step never provokes an attack of opportunity. You can’t take more than one 5-foot step in a round, and you can’t take a 5-foot step in the same round that you move any distance.

You can take a 5-foot step before, during, or after your other actions in the round.

You can only take a 5-foot-step if your movement isn’t hampered by difficult terrain or darkness. Any creature with a speed of 5 feet or less can’t take a 5-foot step, since moving even 5 feet requires a move action for such a slow creature.

You may not take a 5-foot step using a form of movement for which you do not have a listed speed.

Ability Score

Each creature has six ability scores: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. These scores represent a creature’s most basic attributes. The higher the score, the more raw potential and talent your character possesses.


An action is a discrete measurement of time during a round of combat. Using abilities, casting spells, and making attacks all require actions to perform. There are a number of different kinds of actions, such as a standard action, move action, swift action, free action, and full-round action.


An adventure is a self-contained storyline the PCs experience. An adventure is composed of a series of encounters furthering the storyline.

Aid Another

“Aid Another” is a way to help someone else on a skill check by making the same kind of skill check in a cooperative effort. If you roll a 10 or higher on your check, the character you’re helping gets a +2 bonus on his or her check. (You can’t take 10 on a skill check to aid another.) In many cases, a character’s help won’t be beneficial, or only a limited number of characters can help at once. In cases where the skill restricts who can achieve certain results, such as trying to open a lock using Disable Device, you can’t aid another to grant a bonus to a task that your character couldn’t achieve alone. The GM might impose further restrictions to aiding another on a case-by-case basis as well.


Alignment represents a creature’s basic moral and ethical attitude. Alignment has two components: one describing whether a creature is lawful, neutral, or chaotic, followed by another that describes whether a character is good, neutral, or evil. Alignments are usually abbreviated using the first letter of each alignment component, such as LN for lawful neutral or CE for chaotic evil. Creatures that are neutral in both components are denoted by a single “N.”


Note: There is no “official” definition of ally in the core rules but you can generally use the standard definition of “a person (or creature in terms of this game) that is not an enemy or who is on the same side (working towards the same ends).”

Editor’s Note

Do you count as your own ally?

You count as your own ally unless otherwise stated or if doing so would make no sense or be impossible. Thus, “your allies” almost always means the same as “you and your allies.”

Armor Class (AC)

All creatures in the game have an Armor Class. This score represents how difficult a character is to hit with weapons and some spells, and works much like a Difficulty Class for attacks. As with other scores, higher is better. This is the target number enemies need to hit you. Your basic AC is 10 + Dex modifier + armor bonus + shield bonus + spells or magic items that grant an AC bonus. An average unarmored person has an AC of 10. Armor and various abilities can increase this number.


Something that is “at-will” can be used an unlimited number of times per day. It is otherwise unchanged in all other respects.

Base Attack Bonus (BAB)

Each creature has a base attack bonus and it represents its skill in combat. As a character gains levels or Hit Dice, his base attack bonus improves. When a creature’s base attack bonus reaches +6, +11, or +16, he receives an additional attack in combat when he takes a full-attack action (which is one type of full-round action—see Combat).

Base Class

A class that progresses from level 1-20 with no special prerequisites.


Bonuses are numerical values that are added to checks and statistical scores. Most bonuses have a type, and as a general rule, bonuses of the same type are not cumulative (do not “stack”)—only the greater bonus granted applies.

The important aspect of bonus types is that two bonuses of the same type don’t generally stack. With the exception of dodge bonuses, most circumstance bonuses, and racial bonuses, only the better bonus of a given type works. Bonuses without a type always stack, unless they are from the same source.

Editor’s Note

The “can affect” part of the table is for purposes of creating more balanced spells with the spell creation system.

Table: Bonus Types and Effects
Bonus Type Description Can Affect Sample Item Sample Spell
Alchemical An alchemical bonus is granted by the use of a non-magical, alchemical substance such as antitoxin. Ability scores, saves Antitoxin
Armor An armor bonus applies to armor class and is granted by armor or by a spell or magical effect that mimics armor. Armor bonuses stack with all other bonuses to armor class (even with natural armor bonuses) except other armor bonuses. An armor bonus doesn’t apply against touch attacks, except for armor bonuses granted by force effects (such as the mage armor spell) which apply against incorporeal touch attacks, such as that of a shadow. AC Bracers of armor Mage armor
Base Attack Bonus (BAB)* This number is a modifier added to your attack rolls. A higher number means you’re better at combat. +++ +++ +++
Circumstance A circumstance bonus (or penalty) arises from specific conditional factors impacting the success of the task at hand. Circumstance bonuses stack with all other bonuses, including other circumstance bonuses, unless they arise from essentially the same source. Attacks, checks Robe of blending
Competence A competence bonus (or penalty) affects a character’s performance of a particular task, as in the case of the bardic ability to inspire competence. Multiple competence bonuses don’t stack; only the highest bonus applies. Attacks, checks, saves Boots of elvenkind Guidance
Deflection A deflection bonus affects armor class and is granted by a spell or magic effect that makes attacks veer off harmlessly. Deflection bonuses stack with all other bonuses to AC except other deflection bonuses. A deflection bonus applies against touch attacks. AC Ring of protection
Dodge A dodge bonus improves armor class (and sometimes Reflex saves) resulting from physical skill at avoiding blows and other ill effects. Dodge bonuses are never 1 usually not granted by spells or magic items. Any situation or effect (except wearing armor) that negates a character’s Dexterity bonus also negates any dodge bonuses the character may have. Dodge bonuses stack with all other bonuses to AC, even other dodge bonuses. Dodge bonuses apply against touch attacks. AC Never* Never*
Enhancement An enhancement bonus represents an increase in the sturdiness and/or effectiveness of armor or natural armor, or the effectiveness of a weapon, or a general bonus to an ability score. Multiple enhancement bonuses on the same object (in the case of armor and weapons), creature (in the case of natural armor), or ability score do not stack. Only the highest enhancement bonus applies. Since enhancement bonuses to armor or natural armor effectively increase the armor or natural armor’s bonus to AC, they don’t apply against touch attacks. Ability scores, AC, attacks, damage, speed Belt of giant strength Magic weapon
Inherent Ability scores Manual of bodily health Wish
Insight An insight bonus improves performance of a given activity by granting the character an almost precognitive knowledge of what might occur. Multiple insight bonuses on the same character or object do not stack. Only the highest insight bonus applies. AC, attacks, checks, saves Ioun stone True strike
Luck A luck bonus represents good (or bad) fortune. Multiple luck bonuses on the same character or object do not stack. Only the highest luck bonus applies. AC, attacks, checks, damage, saves Stone of good luck Divine favor
Morale A morale bonus represents the effects of greater hope, courage, and determination (or hopelessness, cowardice, and despair in the case of a morale penalty). Multiple morale bonuses on the same character do not stack. Only the highest morale bonus applies. Non-intelligent creatures (creatures with an Intelligence of 0 or no Intelligence at all) cannot benefit from morale bonuses. Attacks, checks, damage, saves, Str, Con, Dex Candle of invocation Bless
Natural Armor A natural armor bonus improves armor class resulting from a creature’s naturally tough hide. Natural armor bonuses stack with all other bonuses to armor class (even with armor bonuses) except other natural armor bonuses. Some magical effects (such as the barkskin spell) grant an enhancement bonus to the creature’s existing natural armor bonus, which has the effect of increasing the natural armor’s overall bonus to armor class. A natural armor bonus doesn’t apply against touch attacks. AC Amulet of natural armor Barkskin
Profane A profane bonus (or penalty) stems from the power of evil. Multiple profane bonuses on the same character or object do not stack. Only the highest profane bonus applies. AC, checks, damage, DCs, saves Desecrate
Racial A racial bonus comes from the culture a particular creature was brought up in or because of innate characteristics of that type of creature. If a creature’s race changes (for instance, if it dies and is reincarnated), it loses all racial bonuses it had in its previous form. ?? ??
Resistance A resistance bonus affects saving throws, providing extra protection against harm. Multiple resistance bonuses on the same character or object do not stack. Only the highest resistance bonus applies. Saves Cloak of resistance Mind blank
Sacred A sacred bonus (or penalty) stems from the power of good. Multiple sacred bonuses on the same character or object do not stack. Only the highest sacred bonus applies. AC, checks, damage, DCs, saves Consecrate
Shield A shield bonus improves armor class and is granted by a shield or by a spell or magic effect that mimics a shield. Shield bonuses stack with all other bonuses to AC except other shield bonuses. A magic shield typically grants an enhancement bonus to the shield’s shield bonus, which has the effect of increasing the shield’s overall bonus to AC. A shield bonus granted by a spell or magic item typically takes the form of an invisible, tangible field of force that protects the recipient. A shield bonus doesn’t apply against touch attacks. AC Ring of force shield Shield
Size A size bonus or penalty is derived from a creature’s size category. Size modifiers of different kinds apply to armor class, attack rolls, Stealth checks, combat maneuver checks, and various other checks. Ability scores, attacks, AC Enlarge person
Trait A trait bonus is a bonus granted via a character trait. Character traits are an optional additional character defining feature like feats but less powerful (typically about half as strong as a feat.) As with other named bonuses, trait bonuses do not “stack” with other trait bonuses.

* Spells and magic items should never grant dodge bonuses because dodge bonuses always stack, and it would be a simple matter to stack various low-power items or spells with small dodge bonuses and get an incredibly high armor class more cheaply than by achieving that AC using the armor, deflection, enhancement, and natural armor bonuses in the game.


A campaign is a collection of stories weaving into an overreaching narrative. It may be a string of published adventures, a chain of home-brewed material, or an Adventure Path designed to be played as a series. A campaign may or may not have a definitive or predefined end point.

Campaign Arc

A sequence of adventures that mesh well with each other, usually part of a larger campaign. Game Masters often run these shorter arcs to create a story that’s more concise than a full campaign but longer than a single adventure.


“Cantrip” is another word for any 0-level arcane spell (spells cast by classes such as sorcerers and wizards.)

Caster Level (CL)

Caster level represents a creature’s power and ability when casting spells. When a creature casts a spell, it often contains a number of variables, such as range or damage, that are based on the caster’s level.

Caster Level Check

A Caster Level Check is made by rolling 1d20 and adding the caster level of the character or creature casting the spell. Many spells (such as dispel magic, nondetection, planar binding, remove curse, and many more) require or include Caster Level Checks to function.

Character Level

The total level of the character, which is the sum of all class levels held by that character.


A check is a d20 roll which may or may not be modified by another value. The most common types are attack rolls, skill checks, ability checks and saving throws.


Classes represent chosen professions taken by characters and some other creatures. Classes give a host of bonuses and allow characters to take actions that they otherwise could not, such as casting spells or changing shape. As a creature gains levels in a given class, it gains new, more powerful abilities. Most PCs gain levels in the core classes or prestige classes, since these are the most powerful. Most NPCs gain levels in NPC Classes, which are less powerful.

Class Level

The level of a character in a particular class. For a character with levels in only one class, class level and character level are the same.

Combat Maneuver

This is an action taken in combat that does not directly cause harm to your opponent, such as attempting to Trip him, Disarm him, or Grapple with him.

Combat Maneuver Bonus (CMB)

Combat Maneuver Bonus represents how skilled a creature is at performing a combat maneuver. When attempting to perform a combat maneuver, this value is added to the character’s d20 roll.

Combat Maneuver Defense (CMD)

Combat Maneuver Defense represents how hard it is to perform a combat maneuver against this creature. A creature’s CMD is used as the difficulty class when performing a maneuver against that creature.

Concentration Check

When a creature is casting a spell, but is disrupted during the casting, he must make a concentration check or fail to cast the spell.

Core Class

One of the standard classes found in Classes.


A creature is an active participant in the story or world. This includes PCs, NPCs, and monsters.

Critical Hit

When you make an attack roll and get a natural 20 (the d20 shows 20), you hit regardless of your target’s Armor Class, and you have scored a “threat,” meaning the hit might be a critical hit (or “crit”). To find out if it’s a critical hit, you immediately make an attempt to “confirm” the critical hit—another attack roll with all the same modifiers as the attack roll you just made. If the confirmation roll also results in a hit against the target’s AC, your original hit is a critical hit. (The critical roll just needs to hit to give you a crit, it doesn’t need to come up 20 again.) If the confirmation roll is a miss, then your hit is just a regular hit.


Damage is determined by rolling the dice listed with the weapon. Melee weapons deal their listed damage + Strength modifier. Ranged weapons usually do only their listed damage. Some weapons gain additional bonuses from magic or other effects. Spells do their listed damage.

Editor’s Note

The following information was compiled from multiple places for ease of reference. The text below is only meant as an aid to understanding various aspects of the different damage types. If you see or believe you see an error, please let us know by reporting it using the Report a Problem link in the left menu sidebar.

Damage Types: There are many “types” of damage. Here are some of the more common forms:

Weapon/Natural Attacks

Weapon/natural attacks typically deal hit point (hp) damage and as such can be reduced by damage reduction.

  • Bludgeoning: Bludgeoning damage is typically caused by blunt objects such as clubs, hammers, boulders, or natural attacks that are blunt in nature. Some spells that summon or conjure solid objects may also say the damage the spell deals is bludgeoning damage. A monsters slam attacks usually deal bludgeoning damage.
  • Piercing: Piercing damage is typically dealt by physical attacks that stab or thrust. A monster’s gore or sting attacks usually deal piercing damage.
  • Slashing: Slashing damage is typically caused by sharp-edged weapons or natural physical attacks that cut. A monsters claws and talons usually deal slashing damage.

Energy Damage

Energy damage is typically dealt by spells (usually evocation spells such as fireball or cone of cold) and typically deals hit point (hp) damage, but unlike damage dealt by weapons or natural attacks, damage reduction usually is not effective against it. Instead, a creature typically must have energy resistance to reduce the amount of damage it takes from one of these sources.

Spells or effects with any of the descriptors [acid], [cold], [electricity], [fire], or [sonic] typically deal energy damage. Energy resistance is usually effective against these types of energy damage.

Special Damage Types

  • Ability Damage: Ability damage is a special type of damage that applies to a creatures ability scores, not to its hit points as most other damage types do. When a creature takes ability damage it applies a penalty to all skills and other checks which are normally affected or modified by that ability score. Diseases, poisons, spells, and other abilities can all deal ability damage. This damage does not actually reduce an ability, but it does apply a penalty to the skills and statistics that are based on that ability. Damage reduction is not effective against ability damage because damage reduction reduces the number of hit points of damage an attack deals whereas ability damage is not hp (hit point) damage.
  • Nonlethal: Nonlethal damage is typically dealt by blunt natural attacks such as fists. Unlike weapon or natural attacks, nonlethal damage does not reduce a creatures current hit points (hp) but instead is tracked separately. When the amount of nonlethal damage a creature has taken equals its current hit points it gains the staggered condition. When the amount of nonlethal damage a creature has taken exceeds its current hit points it gains the unconscious condition. Nonlethal damage is healed (recovered) much more quickly than hit point (hp) damage.
  • Precision Damage: Precision damage is a special type of damage, which might more appropriately be called a “category” of damage because any of the other damage types listed here might also be considered “precision” damage under the right circumstances. Precision damage is usually dealt by classes like the rogue when he is able to catch an opponent unable to fully protect itself. Precision damage assumes that the target has a somewhat normal anatomy or at least has a physical form which might have weak spots which could be detected or taken advantage of. Previous editions of this game limited what sorts of creatures are vulnerable to precision damage more than this one does. This was a deliberate change to make a key class feature of classes like the rogue more frequently usable. Attacks which affect areas (such as splash weapons) usually do not deal precision damage.
  • Positive and Negative Energy: Negative energy attacks a creatures life force and is typically dealt by undead or necromantic effects. Positive energy instills a surge of life energy which typically heals living creatures but damages undead creatures. While it is referred to as “energy” energy resistance typically isn’t effective against either of these types of energy.

Damage Reduction (DR)

Creatures that are resistant to harm typically have damage reduction. This amount is subtracted from any damage dealt to them from a physical source. Most types of DR can be bypassed by certain types of weapons. This is denoted by a “/” followed by the type, such as “10/cold iron.” Some types of DR apply to all physical attacks. Such DR is denoted by the “—” symbol. See Special Abilities for more information.

Dice (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20, and d%)

When the lowercase letter d is followed by a number, it refers to a die with that many sides. For example, a d6 is a six-sided die, and a d20 is a 20-sided die. Sometimes you roll multiple dice and add them together; in these cases, the number of dice goes in front of the “d” and the type of die goes after it. For example, 4d6 means “roll four six-sided dice and add them together.” See Roleplaying Dice on page 8 for more on this.

Difficulty Class (DC)

Whenever a creature attempts to perform an action whose success is not guaranteed, he must make some sort of check (usually a skill check). The result of that check must meet or exceed the Difficulty Class of the action that the creature is attempting to perform in order for the action to be successful. Climbing a slippery wall, dropping prone to avoid dragon breath, and gaining a suspicious guard’s trust all have their own DCs that are determined by the GM. The higher the DC, the more difficult the challenge.


An encounter is a short scene in which the PCs are actively doing something. Examples of encounters include a combat with a monster, a social interaction significant to the adventure’s plot, an attempt to disarm a trap, or the discovery of a mystery or clue requiring further investigation.

Extraordinary Abilities (Ex)

Extraordinary abilities are unusual abilities that do not rely on magic to function. They are not something that just anyone can do or even learn to do without extensive training. Effects or areas that suppress or negate magic have no effect on extraordinary abilities.

Experience Points (XP)

As a character overcomes challenges, defeats monsters, and completes quests, he gains experience points. These points accumulate over time, and when they reach or surpass a specific value, the character gains a level.


A feat is an ability a creature has mastered. Feats often allow creatures to circumvent rules or restrictions. Creatures receive a number of feats based off their Hit Dice, but some classes and other abilities grant bonus feats.

Game Master (GM)

A Game Master is the person who adjudicates the rules and controls all of the elements of the story and world that the players explore. A GM’s duty is to provide a fair and fun game. The game’s storyteller, referee, and director.

Hit Dice (HD)

Hit Dice represent a creature’s general level of power and skill. As a creature gains levels, it gains additional Hit Dice. Monsters, on the other hand, gain racial Hit Dice, which represent the monster’s general prowess and ability. Hit Dice are represented by the number the creature possesses followed by a type of die, such as “3d8.” This value is used to determine a creature’s total hit points. In this example, the creature has 3 Hit Dice. When rolling for this creature’s hit points, you would roll a d8 three times and add the results together, along with other modifiers.

Hit Points (hp)

Hit points are an abstraction signifying how robust and healthy a creature is at the current moment. To determine a creature’s hit points, roll the dice indicated by its Hit Dice. A creature gains maximum hit points if its first Hit Die roll is for a character class level. Creatures whose first Hit Die comes from an NPC class or from his race roll their first Hit Die normally. Wounds subtract hit points, while healing (both natural and magical) restores hit points. Some abilities and spells grant temporary hit points that disappear after a specific duration. When a creature’s hit points drop below 0, it becomes unconscious. When a creature’s hit points reach a negative total equal to its Constitution score, it dies.


Whenever combat begins, all creatures involved in the battle must make an initiative check to determine the order in which creatures act during combat. The higher the result of the check, the earlier a creature gets to act. Initiative is a d20 roll + Dexterity modifier + any bonus modifiers. The higher the result, the earlier you can act.


Many spells and effects state that they are “language-dependent.” A language-dependent spell or effect uses intelligible language as a medium for communication. If the target cannot understand or hear what the caster of a language-dependent spell says, the spell has no effect, even if the target fails its saving throw.


A character’s level represents his overall ability and power. There are three types of levels. Class level is the number of levels of a specific class possessed by a character. Character level is the sum of all of the levels possessed by a character in all of his classes. Characters start at 1st level, and by adventuring can rise as high as 20th level over time. When a character gains a level, he or she receives new abilities and enhancements.

In addition, spells have a level associated with them numbered from 0 to 9. Spells of level 0 are also called either cantrips (arcane) or orisons (divine). Spell level indicates the general power of the spell. As a spellcaster gains character levels, he learns to cast spells of a higher spell level.

Line of Effect

A line of effect is a straight, unblocked path that indicates what a spell can affect. A line of effect is canceled by a solid barrier. It’s like line of sight for ranged weapons, except that it’s not blocked by fog, darkness, and other factors that limit normal sight. A line of effect starts from any corner of your square and extends to the limit of its range or until it strikes a barrier that would block it. A line-shaped spell affects all creatures in squares through which the line passes.

Line of Sight

A line of sight is the same as a Line of Effect but with the additional restriction that that it is blocked by fog, darkness, and other factors that limit normal sight (such as Concealment).

Melee Attack

An attack in hand-to-hand combat. A basic melee attack is a d20 roll + base attack bonus + Strength modifier + any related or magical bonuses.


This is when characters act on information that they don’t have access to, but which their players know from the real world. Metagaming comes into play when players fail to maintain a divide between in-character knowledge and out-of-character knowledge. That could include anything from uncannily accurate in-character predictions from a player who’s already read the adventure, players recognizing monsters when their characters wouldn’t, low-Intelligence characters accessing well-educated players’ knowledge and talents, etc.


Enchantment spells affect the minds of others, influencing or controlling their behavior. A mind-affecting spell works only against creatures with an Intelligence score of 1 or higher.

All enchantments, illusion (patterns), and illusion (phantasms) are mind-affecting.

See Magic for additional details.


A creature with no Intelligence score. Constructs, most oozes, some plants, some undead, and most vermin are mindless.


This is a number added to a die roll or a number on your character sheet. For example, your attack roll might have a modifier of +5, meaning that when you make an attack, you add 5 to the number you roll on the d20 die to get your result (thus, a 12 on the die would count as a 17, and so on). A bonus is a modifier that is +0 or higher; a penalty is one that’s –1 or lower.


Monsters are creatures that rely on racial Hit Dice instead of class levels for their powers and abilities (although some possess class levels as well). PCs are usually not monsters.


How many feet you can move with a single move action on your turn. Each square on a battle grid represents 5 feet.


When you are asked to apply more than one multiplier to a roll, the multipliers are not multiplied by one another. Instead, you combine them into a single multiplier, with each extra multiple adding 1 less than its value to the first multiple. For example, if you are asked to apply a ×2 multiplier twice, the result would be ×3, not ×4.

Natural 1

A natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on an attack roll is always a miss.

Natural 20

A natural 20 (the d20 comes up 20) is always a hit. A natural 20 is also a Critical Threat—a possible critical hit.

Nonplayer Character (NPC)

This is a character played by the Gamemaster (not one of the other players), such as a city guard or innkeeper, or even a monster such as a goblin.


“Orison” is another word for any 0-level divine spell (spells cast by classes such as clerics, druids, oracles, and inquisitors.)


Penalties are numerical values that are subtracted from a check or statistical score. Penalties do not have a type and most penalties stack with one another.

Player Character (Character, PC)

This is a character directly controlled by one of the players—typically a hero of the story you’re playing.

Ranged attack

An attack with a projectile weapon, such as a bow and arrow. A basic ranged attack is a d20 roll + base attack bonus + Dexterity modifier + any related or magical bonuses .


Editor’s Note

Characters who do not get a full night’s sleep may suffer the effects of fatigue. If a PC does not get at least 6 hours of sleep, she must make a DC 15 Fortitude save or be fatigued and take a –1 penalty on all other checks and saving throws against sleep effects. A second night without sleep requires another DC 15 Fortitude save. A failed save results in the character becoming exhausted and the penalties increasing to –2. A third failed save on the next night increases the penalties to –3.

Source PAP44

The core rules are somewhat vague on the requirements of resting and sleeping so the following is an extrapolation of existing rules combined with rules taken from combined with a bit of our own personal ideas. Use at your discretion.

The core rules clearly indicate that the only types of creatures that do not sleep are constructs, oozes, plants and undead. Most other creature types must rest on a somewhat regular cycle. There are specific examples that do not, such as elementals. The exact required duration of that rest is unclear as well as the consequences of having less than the required amount of rest.

We think it is reasonable that most creatures must rest for approximately 1/3 of every day, which in most worlds translates to roughly 8 hours per day.

For most creatures resting means sleeping. In some worlds some races can gain the benefits of rest simply by sitting quietly maintaining an awareness of their surroundings, while in other worlds those races must sleep, which leaves them vulnerable to attack.

In any case, these are the actual benefits of rest, per the core rules.

Armor Note: A creature that rests or sleeps in medium or heavier armor gains the fatigued condition if they do not possess either the Endurance feat or some other class or race ability which allows them to sleep in such uncomfortable gear.

Duration of Rest HP Recovery Ability Damage Conditions Magic
1 hour (complete rest) Exhausted reduced to fatigued
8 hours 1 hp x character level 1 point for each affected ability Fatigued reduced to nothing. Prepare arcane spells normally
24 hours 2 hp x character level 2 points for each affected ability

HP Recovery: Eight hours of normal rest allows a character to recover 1 hp per character level. A disabled character that is not aided by another can attempt a DC 10 Constitution check after resting for 8 hours, to begin recovering hit points naturally (see the disabled condition for additional rules.)

Twenty-four (24) hours of complete rest allows a character to recover 2 hp per character level.

Long-term care: A character recovers hit points at twice the normal rate if attended to by a character who successfully uses the Heal skill to provide “long term care.”

House Rule: A common house rule is to allow recovery of hit points from resting to also include the characters Constitution bonus. So, a character that has rested normally overnight would recover 1 hp per character level + his Con bonus.

Ability Damage: Eight hours of normal rest restores 1 point to each ability score that has been damaged. Twenty-four (24) hours of complete rest restores 2 points to each ability score that has been damaged.

Conditions: One hour spent in complete rest reduces the exhausted condition to the fatigued condition. Eight hours of complete rest eliminates the fatigued condition.

Magic: For classes that prepare arcane spells, rest is extremely important. If rest is interrupted, each interruption adds 1 hour to the total amount of time the character has to rest and the character must have at least 1 hour of uninterrupted rest immediately prior to preparing spells. If the character does not need to sleep for some reason, he still must have 8 hours of restful calm before preparing any spells.

Some spellcasting classes, particularly divine spellcasting classes such as clerics, druids, inquisitors (and others), do not need to rest to regain spells but instead regain spells at a set time each day regardless of rest.

Sleeping & Resting Rules (3pp)

Source Everyman Minis: Sleeping Rules by Rogue Genius Games

Characters often find themselves unable to maintain regular sleep patterns during the course of adventuring, a condition that quickly leads to significant mental and emotional strain.

Most characters need 8 hours of sleep to every 16 hours of wakefulness, though this often varies differs from creature to creature based on type and subtype. A character doesn’t need to get all of its sleep in a single, uninterrupted session. As long as at least half its sleep occurs in a consecutive session, it avoids taking any penalties from sleep deprivation.

Sleep Deprivation

A character can stay awake for a number of additional hours beyond its normal waking hours (16 hours for most characters) equal to her Wisdom bonus without suffering any ill effects.

For each hour that a character remains awake beyond this amount, she must attempt a Wisdom check (DC 10, +1 for each previous check) or take 1 point of sanity damage (see the sanity rules). Characters who have taken sanity damage from sleep deprivation are drowsy (see below). The severity of this condition is based upon the total amount of sanity damage taken from sleep deprivation—she has minor drowsiness if she has any amount of sanity damage from sleep deprivation, moderate drowsiness if her sanity damage from sleep deprivation exceeds half her sanity edge, and severe drowsiness if her sanity damage from sleep deprivation exceeds her sanity edge. If a character’s sanity damage equals or exceeds her sanity score, she becomes comatose (as if she had a Wisdom score of 0) for 48 hours if at least one-quarter (25%) of that sanity damage is the result of sleep deprivation.

Sanity damage from sleep deprivation can only be recovered by sleeping (see below).

Sleep Deprivation and Madness

As with all sources of sanity damage, sleep deprivation can induce madness (see the madness section in Chapter 5 of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Horror Adventures). Lesser madness caused by lack of sleep takes the form of delirium, fugue, hallucination, or melancholia, while greater madness takes the form of amnesia, catatonia, psychosomatic loss, or schizophrenia.

Recovering from Sleep Deprivation

Sanity damage from sleep deprivation cannot be recovered until the character gets sleep. No magic that restores sanity damage short of wish or miracle heals this damage. A character doesn’t need to make Wisdom checks to avoid sanity damage while she is unconscious or sleeping. A character who gains two consecutive nights of good sleep heals a number of points of sanity damage from sleep deprivation equal to her Wisdom modifier (minimum 0) + 1 point per consecutive good night’s sleep. A character who has become comatose from sleep deprivation (see above) heals an amount of sanity damage equal to this amount upon waking up, as if she had gotten two nights of good sleep.


Combat is measured in rounds. During an individual round, all creatures have a chance to take a turn to act, in order of initiative. A round represents 6 seconds in the game world.


Occasionally the rules ask you to round a result or value. Unless otherwise stated, always round down. For example, if you are asked to take half of 7, the result would be 3.

Saving Throw

When a creature is the subject of a dangerous spell or effect, it often receives a saving throw to mitigate the damage or result. Saving throws are passive, meaning that a character does not need to take an action to make a saving throw—they are made automatically. There are three types of saving throws: Fortitude (used to resist poisons, diseases, and other bodily ailments), Reflex (used to avoid effects that target an entire area, such as fireball), and Will (used to resist mental attacks and spells).

Saving throws are also sometimes just referred to as saves, as in “What is your Reflex Save?“.


A session is a single bout of gaming. Not every session ties up an adventure; many adventures require multiple sessions to complete. The duration of sessions varies from group to group, from a few hours to a weekend.


A creatures size comes up frequently. Find below some very commonly referenced information. See page Size, Reach, & Threatened Areas for some examples and diagrams.

Creature Size Size
Special Size
Size Modifier to
Size Modifier to
Space Natural
Fine +8 -8 +8 +16 1/2 ft. 0 6″ or less 1/8 lb. or less
Diminutive +4 -4 +6 +12 1 ft. 0 6″ to 1 ft. 1/8 lb. – 1 lb.
Tiny +2 -2 +4 +8 2-1/2 ft. 0 1′ to 2 ft. 1-8 lbs.
Small +1 -1 +2 +4 5 ft. 5 ft. 2′ to 4 ft. 8-60 lbs.
Medium +0 +0 +0 +0 5 ft. 5 ft. 4′ to 8 ft. 60-500 lbs.
Large (tall) -1 +1 -2 -4 10 ft. 10 ft. 8′ to 16 ft. 500-4000 lbs.
Large (long) -1 +1 -2 -4 10 ft. 5 ft. 8′ to 16 ft. 500-4000 lbs.
Huge (tall) -2 +2 -4 -8 15 ft. 15 ft. 16′ to 32 ft. 2-16 tons
Huge (long) -2 +2 -4 -8 15 ft. 10 ft. 16′ to 32 ft. 2-16 tons
Gargantuan (tall) -4 +4 -6 -12 20 ft. 20 ft. 32′ to 64 ft. 16 – 125 tons
Gargantuan (long) -4 +4 -6 -12 20 ft. 15 ft. 32′ to 64 ft. 16 – 125 tons
Colossal (tall) -8 +8 -8 -16 30 ft. 30 ft. 64 ft. or more 125 tons or more
Colossal (long) -8 +8 -8 -16 30 ft. 20 ft. 64 ft. or more 125 tons or more

1 A creatures size modifier applies to its attacks and Armor Class.
2 A creatures special size modifier applies to it’s Combat Maneuver Bonus (CMB) and Combat Maneuver Defense (CMD).
3 These values are typical for creatures of the indicated size. Some exceptions exist.
4 A different size modifier applies to Fly and Stealth skill checks a creature makes.


A skill represents a creature’s ability to perform an ordinary task, such as climb a wall, sneak down a hallway, or spot an intruder. The number of ranks possessed by a creature in a given skill represents its proficiency in that skill. As a creature gains Hit Dice, it also gains additional skill ranks that can be added to its skills.

Skill Check

Your ability to do something, from lying to climbing a wall or healing wounds. A skill check is a d20 roll + your skill modifier from the related skill (if any).


Base Speed

Base speed is your unencumbered speed for a specified type of movement. Your base speed for any movement type is calculated in a similar manner as described in Base Land speed. When a speed type is not referenced, base speed usually implies base land speed.

Base Land Speed

Base land speed is your unencumbered speed. Base land speed is calculated by applying all modifiers to your character’s speed with the exception of armor or encumbrance adjustments or any effect that modifies your “normal speed”.

In example, Kraag is a half-orc barbarian wearing light armor and calculates his speed as follows:

Total base land speed: 40’ (30’ half-orc base speed; +10’ barbarian in light or medium armor, untyped bonus for Fast Movement class feature)

Full Speed

Your speed after calculating your normal speed and applying all other adjustments that affect your normal speed is your full speed. In most circumstances, your full speed is the same as your normal speed. Some effects modify normal speed however do not specifically add to its total, such as the haste spell. This newly modified speed is your full speed.

In example, Kraag a half-orc barbarian, wearing hide armor (medium armor) has just had haste cast on him. Kraag calculates his speed as follows:

Total base land speed: 40’ (30’ half-orc base speed; +10’ barbarian in light or medium armor, untyped bonus for Fast Movement class feature)

Total normal speed: 30’ (40’ total base land speed; -10’ reduction as per Table: Encumbrance Effects)

Total full speed: 60’ (30’ total normal speed +30’ enhancement speed bonus)

Normal Speed

Your normal speed is your total encumbered speed (if any encumbrance applies). Normal speed is calculated by applying any armor or encumbrance reduction as indicated on Table: Armor and Encumbrance for Other Base Speeds, to your base speed.

In example, Kraag a half-orc barbarian, has just donned hide armor (medium armor). Kraag calculates his speed as follows:

  • Total base land speed: 40’ (30’ half-orc base speed; +10’ barbarian in light or medium armor, untyped bonus for Fast Movement class feature)
  • Total normal speed: 30’ (40’ total base land speed; -10’ reduction as per Table: Carrying Capacity)

Overland Speed

Overland Speed (or Overland Movement) is typically referred to as a unit of measurement over vast distances and is measured in miles per hour or miles per day. Overland movement is not the same as your land speed. Table: Movement and Distance provides overland movement rates which are calculated as follows:

  • One Hour Overland: full speed divided by 10 with the result referenced in miles.
  • One Day Overland: one hour overland speed multiplied by 4 with the result referenced in miles.


The term “Speed” is loosely used and is sometimes referred to as “character speed”. Generally, unless indicated otherwise any reference to speed should be deemed as a reference to normal speed.

Speed Mode

Speed Modes are usually in reference to the different modes of land speeds available: walk, hustle and run. Run is usually further defined by a situational multiplier starting at (x3).

Speed Type

Speed Type is the type of speed you have available: burrow, climb, land, fly and swim.

Top Speed

Top Speed is a reference to using the best speed mode you have available, for any type of speed.


Spells can perform a wide variety of tasks, from harming enemies to bringing the dead back to life. Spells specify what they can target, what their effects are, and how they can be resisted or negated.

Spell-Like Abilities (Sp)

Editor’s Note

Can I use a metamagic feat to alter a spell-like ability?

No. Metamagic feats specifically only affect spells, not spell-like abilities. Also, spell-like abilities do not have spell slots, so you can’t adjust the effective spell slot of a spell-like ability.


Spell-like abilities function just like spells, but are granted through a special racial ability or by a specific class ability (as opposed to spells, which are gained by spellcasting classes as a character gains levels).*

Spell Resistance (SR)

Some creatures are resistant to magic and gain spell resistance. When a creature with spell resistance is targeted by a spell, the caster of the spell must make a caster level check to see if the spell affects the target. The DC of this check is equal to the target creature’s SR (some spells do not allow SR checks).


Stacking refers to the act of adding together bonuses or penalties that apply to one particular check or statistic. Generally speaking, most bonuses of the same type do not stack. Instead, only the highest bonus applies. Most penalties do stack, meaning that their values are added together. Penalties and bonuses generally stack with one another, meaning that the penalties might negate or exceed part or all of the bonuses, and vice versa.

Supernatural Abilities (Su)

Supernatural abilities are magical attacks, defenses, and qualities. These abilities can be always active or they can require a specific action to utilize. The supernatural ability’s description includes information on how it is used and its effects.

Take 10

When a character or creature is not in immediate danger or distracted, it may choose to take 10 on some rolls (specifically, skill checks). Instead of rolling 1d20 for the check, calculate the result as if the die had rolled a 10. For many routine tasks, taking 10 makes them automatically successful. Distractions or threats (such as combat) make it impossible to take 10. In most cases, taking 10 is purely a safety measure—you know (or expect) that an average roll will succeed but fear that a poor roll might fail, so you elect to settle for the average roll (a 10). Taking 10 is especially useful in situations where a particularly high roll wouldn’t help.

Take 20

When a character or creature has plenty of time, and is not faced with threats or distractions, and the skill being attempted carries no penalties for failure, he/it can take 20. Instead of rolling 1d20 for the check, just calculate the result as if the die had rolled a 20.

Taking 20 means you continue trying until you get it right, and assumes that you will fail many times before succeeding. Taking 20 takes 20 times as long as making a single check would take (usually 2 minutes for a skill that takes 1 round or less to perform).

Since taking 20 assumes that your character will fail many times before succeeding, your character would automatically incur any penalties for failure before he or she could complete the task (hence why it is generally not allowed with skills that carry such penalties).

Temporary Hit Points

When a character gains temporary hit points, note his current hit point total. When the temporary hit points go away the character’s hit points drop to his current hit point total. If the character’s hit points are below his current hit point total at that time, the character’s hit point total does not change. Temporary hit points do not stack.


TPK stands for “Total Party Kill” a sometimes accidental result of a poorly designed encounter by the GM, or poor decision making by the players, a combination of the two, or simply, bad luck and dice rolling. This definition provided by your friendly neighborhood collaborators 🙂


In a round, a creature receives one turn, during which it can perform a wide variety of actions. Generally in the course of one turn, a character can perform one standard action, one move action, one swift action, and a number of free actions. Less-common combination’s of actions are permissible as well, see Combat for more details.

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