Exploration & Movement

Carrying Capacity

Armor and Encumbrance for Other Base Speeds


Tactical Movement
Local Movement
Overland Movement
Evasion and Pursuit


Vision and Light

Breaking and Entering

Smashing an Object
Breaking Items

Tables on this Page

Table: Exploration DCs
Table: Discovery Score Modifiers
Table: Strength, Carrying Capacity, Examples and Descriptions
Table: Armor and Encumbrance for Other Base Speeds
Table: Encumbrance Effects
Table: Movement and Distance
Table: Hampered Movement
Table: Terrain and Overland Movement
Table: Mounts and Vehicles
Table: Light Sources and Illumination
Table: Size and Armor Class of Objects
Table: Substance Hardness and Hit Points
Table: DCs to Break or Burst Items
Table: Object Hardness and Hit Points
Table: Common Armor Weapon and Shield Hardness and Hit Points


Unspoiled wilderness and uncharted lands represent an opportunity for exploration and the discovery of ancient secrets, lost treasures, natural wonders, and the remote lairs of terrible beasts. As exciting as exploring wilderness can be, the fact that there are no city streets or dungeon walls to guide choices can make running exploration in uncharted wilds a challenge. The rules presented in this section can be used when a group enters such uncharted lands to discover what lies within, and at your discretion can serve as an expansion on the rules for exploration. Brief definitions of terms used in this section are listed below.

Discovery Points: As the PCs explore a territory, they’ll accumulate Discovery Points—an abstract measure of how thoroughly they have explored the region. Note that while gazetteers, maps, research, and rumors can grant bonus Discovery Points for a region even before the PCs set foot within the wild, inaccurate information gleaned from such sources can penalize the accumulation of Discovery Points.

Exploration Check: As the PCs search a territory, they’ll attempt exploration checks to determine how many Discovery Points they accumulate. Exploration checks are typically Survival checks, though unusual territories may require other specialized skills. A character can attempt an exploration check using Perception in place of the required skill with a –5 penalty.

Location: A location is an adventure site or other point of interest within a territory—it could be an ancient ruin, a dragon’s cave, a druidic monument, a hidden treasure, a portal to the Fey World, or anything else of note. Each location has a discovery score equal to the number of Discovery Points required to find the location.

Territory: Territories are discrete geographic areas with defined boundaries. These can be political borders or geographical transitions. If you’re using the exploration rules from Ultimate Campaign, a single hex constitutes a territory. Alternately, a territory can be a much larger region; in this case, the PCs’ exploration of the territory is a much more abstract concept and doesn’t involve tracking exact locations on a map. In either case, each territory has its own Challenge Rating, which determines the danger of wandering monsters in the territory as well as the DC for exploration checks to earn Discovery Points.

Way Sign: Way signs are events, objects, or terrain features that give a hint to find a location. Discovering a way sign, either by stumbling across one in the wild (such as by reaching a vantage point that gives an excellent view of the lay of the land, or by stumbling across an old road sign) or by researching a region beforehand (such as by consulting gazetteers, maps, or the rumor mill), can grant bonus Discovery Points or reveal the existence of previously unknown locations—but some way signs may be inaccurate or misleading.

The Exploration Process

Typically, explorers come to a territory to seek out a specific location within its reaches. Sometimes they know of multiple locations reputed to lie within the region and needs only find them. Other times, some or all the locations remain unknown until the explorers stumble across them or find clues as a result of their investigations in the territory. In either case, before explorers can discover a location, they must first accumulate enough Discovery Points (either by succeeding at exploration checks or by correctly interpreting way signs).

Once the explorers reach the territory in question, they can begin exploration and discovery. Their efforts result in the accumulation of Discovery Points, which they can spend to discover locations, and in finding way signs, which provide additional Discovery Points and sometimes also reveal the existence of further locations to be discovered. Discovery Points earned in a given territory are tied to that territory; the PCs cannot apply points earned in one territory to a new territory. The party’s accumulated Discovery Points remain indefinitely, even if the PCs leave the territory and return later.

Character Actions

At the start of each day, each character must decide if she will spend the day documenting the territory, exploring, seeking a location, or taking another action (such as crafting magic items, guarding a campsite, resting, or the like). Only the first three options—documenting, exploring, and seeking a location—directly contribute to the exploration process. Uncovering way signs can also contribute to the process, but the actions required to earn Discovery Points via way signs vary widely and depend on the way signs in question.

Documenting: The character spends the day mapping the territory or recording its features in a gazetteer and can attempt one skill check for each day spent documenting. Creating a map requires one or more successful Profession (cartographer) checks, while creating a gazetteer requires one or more successful Linguistics checks (at the GM’s discretion, other skill checks can be used in place of these). The number of checks needed equals the territory’s CR, and the DC equals the territory’s exploration check DC. Once the character has succeeded at the required checks, she has created a detailed map or gazetteer of the region, which grants a +5 circumstance bonus on future exploration checks in that territory (bonuses from multiple maps or gazetteers don’t stack).

Exploring: The character spends the day exploring the territory. At the end of the day, the character attempts an exploration check against the territory’s DC. An exploration check is usually a Survival check, but in some unusual regions or circumstances, it could require another skill check. A character can always attempt an exploration check using the Perception skill, but doing so is more difficult since this represents a more generalized method of exploration, and the player attempting a Perception-based exploration check takes a –5 penalty on the roll as a result.

If the character succeeds at the exploration check, she earns 1 Discovery Point for the group, plus 1 additional point for every 5 points by which the result of the check exceeds the DC. Failing the check by 5 or more reduces the group’s Discovery Point total by 1, plus 1 additional point for every additional 5 points by which she failed the check. Unless every character in the group is skilled at the territory’s exploration skill, it’s often prudent for one character to attempt the primary exploration check and for others to engage in other tasks or use the aid another action to improve the primary check’s result.

Seeking a Location: If the PCs wish to seek out a location, they can do so by spending Discovery Points at the start of the day. If they are seeking a specific location that they know exists in the territory (typically having found clues to it in the form of way signs), they must spend a number of Discovery Points equal to the location’s discovery score—a number that determines how difficult that location is to find (with higher values representing locations that are more difficult to discover). If the PCs want to attempt to uncover an unknown location at random, they choose how many Discovery Points from their total that they want to spend. Once the points are spent, divide the total spent in half, then compare that result to the discovery scores of all the locations in the territory. If any of those locations have a discovery score lower than that total, the PCs discover one of those locations (chosen at random if more than one location is a potential discovery). If none of the locations have a discovery score lower than that total, the group recovers half the Discovery Points they spent, but the other half is lost. Once the party discovers a location, travel time to the site varies according to the GM’s discretion and the overall size of the territory.

Uncovering Way Signs: Every way sign the characters uncover has an associated skill check with a DC determined by the complexity of the way sign. The amount of time necessary to interpret a given way sign varies; some checks can be attempted with an insignificant time expenditure (such as recalling information about a territory using a Knowledge skill), while some require significant time to complete (like translating ancient texts or visiting a nearby settlement to gather information), which takes away from time spent documenting, exploring, or seeking a location. On a successful skill check, the PCs earn Discovery Points for the territory to which the way sign is linked. A simple way sign grants 1 Discovery Point, a moderately complex way sign grants 3 Discovery Points, and a complex way sign grants 5 Discovery Points. However, misinterpreting a way sign can complicate exploration—if a PC fails a check to interpret a way sign by 5 or more, the misinformation he obtains reduces the PCs’ current Discovery Point total for that territory by 1d4 points. This can result in negative values. The PCs can attempt to interpret a way sign multiple times, but once they have successfully interpreted it, further attempts do not grant additional Discovery Points.

Additional Factors

Some factors can affect both the rate and effectiveness of exploration, as detailed below.

Careful Exploration: Some groups might choose to explore more slowly and methodically in order to make a more careful search. This allows the group to attempt one extra exploration check for each day spent in careful exploration, but it limits the total number of Discovery Points that can be gained to 1 (a character using careful exploration cannot earn additional Discovery Points by exceeding the DC by 5 or more). Typically, careful exploration can be performed only if the terrain is relatively clear and free of obstructions. The GM is free to limit this option if she believes that a slow search would not garner much benefit due to the terrain.

Darkness: Unless the explorer has darkvision or another ability to see in darkness, he takes a –4 penalty on exploration checks he attempts when some but at most half of the hours spent exploring that day occur after nightfall. Explorers take a –8 penalty on checks attempted when more than half of the hours spent exploring occur after nightfall.

Extending the Day: A day of exploration typically takes 8 hours; the rest of each day is assumed to be split between 8 hours of rest and 8 hours spent eating, making and breaking camp, relaxing, and the like. It’s possible to increase the amount of time in a day used for exploring by spending an additional 8-hour session exploring, but for every additional stretch of time up to 8 hours by which the PCs extend their time spent exploring, they take a cumulative –4 penalty on exploration checks to earn Discovery Points until they next rest for 8 hours. At the GM’s discretion, fatigue and exhaustion can also set in if the PCs don’t rest enough.

Weather: Inclement weather hampers exploration checks if it is the predominant weather of a given exploration period. For example, the PCs would take a –1 penalty in the case of light fog or light rain, but a –10 penalty in the case of a blizzard or hurricane.

Exploration Rewards

Finding a location is often its own reward, but given the time, energy, and sometimes the resources needed to successfully conduct an exploration, you should consider the following additional rewards for parties that successfully discover all of the locations hidden in a territory.

Experience Points: The PCs should earn experience points equal to what they would have normally earned for defeating a monster of a CR equal to the territory’s CR once all locations within the territory are discovered. (If you’re using this system with the exploration rules in Ultimate Campaign, you should decide if you want to use this method of XP reward, the one detailed in Ultimate Campaign, or both, as appropriate for your game table.)

Maps and Gazetteers: The successful completion of a map or gazetteer can generate a monetary reward if the PCs sell their hard work back in civilization. A complete map or gazetteer of a region that has never before been explored can be sold for a number of gold pieces equal to 100 × the territory’s CR; once a map or gazetteer of a region has been sold, further copies of a map or gazetteer of that region (regardless of whether the first item sold was a map or gazetteer) are generally worth only 10% of that value or less, depending on GM’s discretion and supply and demand.

Creating A Territory

The steps listed below present all the information you need to generate territories for your PCs to explore. If you’re using the hex-based exploration rules from Ultimate Campaign, follow these steps for every hex in your map, though you can reuse information for similar hexes.

Step 1: Define the Territory

The first step is to determine your territory’s Challenge Rating. Typically, this should be the same value as the PCs’ Average Party Level, but you might want to make it easier or harder for the sake of the story. The territory’s CR helps guide the creation of random encounters, but it also determines the base DC of exploration checks, which can be found on Table 4–1. Though most exploration checks use the Survival skill, you can assign a different skill for particularly unusual or magical territories (for example, exploring a complex extraplanar library might require a Knowledge check, while exploring the mindscape of a slumbering god in which the PCs are trapped could require a Sense Motive check).

Exploration check DCs are intended to be moderately difficult. Characters who are heavily invested in the relevant skill for a given check should have a reasonable chance of success, while those who are not adept with the necessary skills are in danger of leading the PCs off track by providing erroneous information or misinterpreting way signs. Often, characters who lack the relevant skills for a particular exploration are better off using their abilities for other tasks or helping more skillful PCs via the aid another action.

Table 4–1: Exploration DCs
Territory CR Exploration DC
1 17
2 19
3 21
4 22
5 23
6 24
7 25
8 26
9 27
10 28
11 29
12 30
13 31
14 32
15 33
16 34
17 35
18 36
19 37
20 38

Step 2: Design Locations

As a general rule, each territory should contain at least one location to discover; otherwise, there’s little point to exploring a territory. In some cases, you need to design only a single location—the focus and eventual goal of the exploration. Other times, such as if the PCs are surveying a lost world or another terra incognita, you’ll want to design multiple locations, each competing with the others for the PCs’ attention.

Each location should be something memorable and significant. Finding a location should grant a reward (such as a supernatural enhancement, valuable treasure, or a way sign), or that location should be an adventure site. Locations can be as simple as a stash of ancient pirate treasure or as complex as a lost city harboring ancient magic and technological mysteries.

Each location in a territory needs its own discovery score. An obvious location (such as a large castle or a humanoid army camp) should have an initial discovery score of 3, while a more obscure location (such as a single house or a cave entrance) should have an initial discovery score of 6. You can modify this initial discovery score total using the values given on Table 4–2, but feel free to come up with your own values based on the exploration’s narrative.

Table 4–2: Discovery Score Modifiers
Condition Modifier to Discovery Score
Desert or plains terrain +1
Forest, hills, or marsh terrain +2
Mountain terrain +3
Location is traveled to or from often –4
Location is mobile within the territory +4
Location is unusually large –2
Location is unusually small +2
Location is deliberately hidden +2 to +6

Adjustments are cumulative, but the minimum discovery score = 1.

Step 3: Create Way Signs

Way signs provide information about the territory and, if correctly interpreted, can provide bonus Discovery Points. A way sign could be as simple as a vantage point that offers a glimpse of a location from a distance or a hidden path toward a sought-after goal, or it might itself be a reward for finding a location. Way signs can even be earned or uncovered in advance of exploring a region—if a PC researches the territory the party intends to explore in a library, she might uncover a set of old maps or a traveler’s journal that provides clues to navigating the territory and thus serves as a way sign.

When designing a territory, you’ll usually want to include at least one or two-way signs or as many as 10 in cases of large territories. If you’re using hex-based exploration, treat each significant terrain feature as a territory for the purpose of deciding how many way signs to include, rather than treating each hex as its own territory. Each way sign should have a trigger that results in its discovery by the party, be it attempting to recall lore about a region, gathering information in a nearby settlement, using flight to scout the lay of the land, or uncovering an old map or journal discussing the region. Each way sign should also have an associated skill check and DC to successfully gain information or interpret the clue.

For a simple way sign, this DC should equal the territory’s CR + 10. For a moderately complex way sign, the DC should be equal to the territory’s CR + 15. For complex way signs, the DC should be equal to the territory’s CR + 20.

Step 4: Create Random Encounter Tables

A territory’s CR sets the average CR of random encounters occurring within that territory. A short table of a half-dozen or so potential encounters is enough. It’s generally best to check for encounters four times per day—once at dawn, once at noon, once at dusk, and once at midnight, with a 20% chance of an encounter each time. You can even tie encounters to exploration checks, with a result of a natural 1 on such a check indicating a random encounter. Feel free to adjust the frequency of these checks and the chance of a random encounter occurring as best suits your game. Keep in mind that too many random encounters and wandering monsters can slow down the progression of your plot and can frustrate players. It’s often best to limit random encounters to one per day of in-game time.

Example Territory: Gnoll Canyon

Suppose the PCs have learned of a great evil rising in a hidden temple in the arid hills surrounding gnoll-held territories. Rather than generate a map of the region, you instead use the rules in this section to guide the PCs’ exploration of White Canyon and their search for the hidden temple. You might also include a few other adventure sites in the region for the PCs to seek out and way signs to help them get a jump on locating these sites. Your notes on White Canyon might end up looking like the following.

Gnoll Canyon Territory CR 5

Arid hills ruled by bickering gnoll tribes and stalked by desert beasts and ghuls

Exploration Check Survival DC 23

Location Discovery Scores

Hidden Temple 12 (base score of 6, hills terrain +2, location is deliberately hidden +4)

Red Sultan’s Camp 1 (base score of 3, hills terrain +2, location is traveled to or from often –4)

Wyvern Lair 8 (base score of 6, hills terrain +2)

Simple Way Signs (1 Discovery Point)

Rumors A successful DC 15 Diplomacy check to gather information in a nearby settlement can reveal information about the region.

Moderate Way Signs (3 Discovery Points)

Recall Lore A successful DC 20 Knowledge (geography) check reveals information about the region.

Reconnaissance via Flight A character who spends at least 30 minutes flying above the region and then succeeds at a DC 20 Perception check spots landmarks and gets the lay of the land.

Complex Way Signs (5 Discovery Points)

Deciphering a Journal If the PCs find an ill-fated explorer’s journal in the wyvern’s lair, a PC who can read Aklo and succeeds at a DC 25 Linguistics check correctly interprets her coded notes.

Random Encounters

Frequency 4 times per day (morning, noon, dusk, midnight)

Chance of Encounter 20%

d% Encounter CR
1–15 Giant vulture 4
16–30 Mummy 5
31–55 Gnoll wild pack 5
56–75 2 dire hyenas 5
76–85 Gnoll hunting party 5
86–95 1 wyvern 6
96–100 2 ghuls 7

Carrying Capacity

These carrying capacity rules determine how much a character’s equipment slows him down. Encumbrance comes in two parts: encumbrance by armor and encumbrance by total weight.

Encumbrance by Armor: A character’s armor determines his maximum Dexterity bonus to AC, armor check penalty, speed, and running speed. Unless your character is weak or carrying a lot of gear, that’s all you need to know; the extra gear your character carries won’t slow him down any more than the armor already does.

If your character is weak or carrying a lot of gear, however, then you’ll need to calculate encumbrance by weight. Doing so is most important when your character is trying to carry some heavy object.

Encumbrance by Weight: If you want to determine whether your character’s gear is heavy enough to slow him down more than his armor already does, total the weight of all the character’s items, including armor, weapons, and gear. Compare this total to the character’s Strength on Table: Carrying Capacity. Depending on the character’s carrying capacity, he or she may be carrying a light, medium, or heavy load. Like armor, a character’s load affects his maximum Dexterity bonus to AC, carries a check penalty (which works like an armor check penalty), reduces the character’s speed, and affects how fast the character can run, as shown on Table: Encumbrance Effects. A medium or heavy load counts as medium or heavy armor for the purpose of abilities or skills that are restricted by armor. Carrying a light load does not encumber a character.

If your character is wearing armor, use the worse figure (from armor or from load) for each category. Do not stack the penalties.

Lifting and Dragging: A character can lift as much as his maximum load over his head. A character’s maximum load is the highest amount of weight listed for a character’s Strength in the heavy load column of Table: Carrying Capacity.

A character can lift as much as double his maximum load off the ground, but he or she can only stagger around with it. While overloaded in this way, the character loses any Dexterity bonus to AC and can move only 5 feet per round (as a full-round action).

A character can generally push or drag along the ground as much as five times his maximum load. Favorable conditions can double these numbers, and bad circumstances can reduce them by half or more.

Bigger and Smaller Creatures: The figures on Table: Carrying Capacity are for Medium bipedal creatures. A larger bipedal creature can carry more weight depending on its size category, as follows: Large ×2, Huge ×4, Gargantuan ×8, Colossal ×16. A smaller creature can carry less weight depending on its size category, as follows: Small ×3/4, Tiny ×1/2, Diminutive ×1/4, Fine ×1/8.

Quadrupeds can carry heavier loads than bipeds can. Multiply the values corresponding to the creature’s Strength score from Table: Carrying Capacity by the appropriate modifier, as follows: Fine ×1/4, Diminutive ×1/2, Tiny ×3/4, Small ×1, Medium ×1-1/2, Large ×3, Huge ×6, Gargantuan ×12, Colossal ×24.

Tremendous Strength: For Strength scores not shown on Table: Carrying Capacity, find the Strength score between 20 and 29 that has the same number in the “ones” digit as the creature’s Strength score does and multiply the numbers in that row by 4 for every 10 points the creature’s Strength is above the score for that row.

Table: Strength, Carrying Capacity, Examples and Descriptions
Score Light Load (lbs.) Medium Load (lbs.) Heavy Load (lbs.) Modifier Examples Description
— (no score) Allip, shadow, will-o’-wisp A creature with no Strength score is likely to be incorporeal (like ghosts)
0 0 0 0 Too weak to move in any way and is unconscious.
1 0-3 4–6 7–10 –5 Lantern archon, bat, toad Morbidly weak, has significant trouble lifting own limbs
2 0-6 7–13 14–20 –4 Rat swarm Needs help to stand, can be knocked over by strong breezes
3 0-10 11–20 21–30 –4
4 0-13 14–26 27–40 –3 Grig, monstrous centipede Knocked off balance by swinging something dense
5 0-16 17–33 34–50 –3
6 0-20 21–40 41–60 –2 Hawk, cockatrice, pixie Difficulty pushing an object of their weight
7 0-23 24–46 47–70 –2
8 0-26 27–53 54–80 –1 Quasit, badger Has trouble even lifting heavy objects
9 0-30 31–60 61–90 –1
10 0-33 34–66 67–100 +0 Human Can literally pull their own weight
11 0-38 39–76 77–115 +0
12 0-43 44–86 87–130 +1 Dog, pony, ghoul Carries heavy objects for short distances
13 0-50 51–100 101–150 +1
14 0-58 59–116 117–175 +2 Gnoll, dire badger, baboon Visibly toned, throws small objects for long distances
15 0-66 67–133 134–200 +2
16 0-76 77–153 154–230 +3 Black pudding, choker, shark Carries heavy objects with one arm
17 0-86 87–173 174–260 +3
18 0-100 101–200 201–300 +4 Centaur, displacer beast, minotaur Can break objects like wood with bare hands
19 0-116 117–233 234–350 +4
20 0-133 134–266 267–400 +5 Ape, ogre, flesh golem, gorgon Able to out-wrestle a work animal or catch a falling person
21 0-153 154–306 307–460 +5
22 0-173 174–346 347–520 +6 Rhinoceros, ogre destroyer Can pull very heavy objects at appreciable speeds
23 0-200 201–400 401–600 +6
24 0-233 234–466 467–700 +7 Hill giant, troll berserker Pinnacle of brawn, able to out-lift several people
25 0-266 267–533 534–800 +7
26 0-306 307–613 614–920 +8
27 0-346 347–693 694–1,040 +8
28 0-400 401–800 801–1,200 +9
29 0-466 467–933 934–1,400 +9
30 0-532 533–1,066 1,067–1,600 +10 Fire giant, triceratops, elephant Amongst the strongest creatures to have ever existed
+10 ×4 ×4 ×4

Armor and Encumbrance for Other Base Speeds

Table: Armor and Encumbrance for Other Base Speeds provides reduced speed figures for all base speeds from 5 feet to 120 feet (in 5-foot increments).

Table: Armor and Encumbrance for Other Base Speeds
Base Speed Reduced Speed
5 ft. 5 ft.
10 ft.–15 ft. 10 ft.
20 ft. 15 ft.
25 ft.–30 ft. 20 ft.
35 ft. 25 ft.
40 ft.–45 ft. 30 ft.
50 ft. 35 ft.
55 ft.–60 ft. 40 ft.
65 ft. 45 ft.
70 ft.–75 ft. 50 ft.
80 ft. 55 ft.
85 ft.–90 ft. 60 ft.
95 ft. 65 ft.
100 ft.–105 ft. 70 ft.
110 ft. 75 ft.
115 ft.–120 ft. 80 ft.
Table: Encumbrance Effects
Load Max Dex Check Penalty Speed Run
(30 ft.) (20 ft.)
Medium +3 –3 20 ft. 15 ft. ×4
Heavy +1 –6 20 ft. 15 ft. ×3


There are three movement scales, as follows:

  • Tactical, for combat, measured in feet (or 5-foot squares) per round.
  • Local, for exploring an area, measured in feet per minute.
  • Overland, for getting from place to place, measured in miles per hour or miles per day.

Modes of Movement

While moving at the different movement scales, creatures generally walk, hustle, or run.

  1. Walk: A walk represents unhurried but purposeful movement (3 miles per hour for an unencumbered adult human).
  2. Hustle: A hustle is a jog (about 6 miles per hour for an unencumbered human). A character moving his speed twice in a single round, or moving that speed in the same round that he or she performs a standard action or another move action, is hustling when he or she moves.
  3. Run:
    • Run (x3) – Moving three times speed is a running pace for a character in heavy armor (about 7 miles per hour for a human in full plate).
    • Run (x4) – Moving four times speed is a running pace for a character in light, medium, or no armor ( about 12 miles per hour for an unencumbered human, or 9 miles per hour for a human in chainmail) See Table: Movement and Distance for details.
Table: Movement and Distance
Speed 15 feet 20 feet 30 feet 40 feet
One Round (Tactical)*
Walk 15 ft. 20 ft. 30 ft. 40 ft.
Hustle 30 ft. 40 ft. 60 ft. 80 ft.
Run (×3) 45 ft. 60 ft. 90 ft. 120 ft.
Run (×4) 60 ft. 80 ft. 120 ft. 160 ft.
One Minute (Local)
Walk 150 ft. 200 ft. 300 ft. 400 ft.
Hustle 300 ft. 400 ft. 600 ft. 800 ft.
Run (×3) 450 ft. 600 ft. 900 ft. 1,200 ft.
Run (×4) 600 ft. 800 ft. 1,200 ft. 1,600 ft.
One Hour (Overland)
Walk 1-1/2 miles 2 miles 3 miles 4 miles
Hustle 3 miles 4 miles 6 miles 8 miles
One Day (Overland)
Walk 12 miles 16 miles 24 miles 32 miles

* Tactical movement is often measured in squares on the battle grid (1 square = 5 feet) rather than feet.

Table: Hampered Movement
Condition Additional Movement Cost
Difficult terrain ×2
Obstacle* ×2
Poor visibility ×2

* May require a skill check

Table: Terrain and Overland Movement
Terrain Highway Road or Trail Trackless
Desert, Sandy x1 x1/2 x1/2
Forest x1 x1 x1/2
Hills x1 x3/4 x1/2
Jungle x1 x3/4 x1/4
Moor x1 x1 x3/4
Mountains x3/4 x3/4 x1/2
Plains x1 x1 x3/4
Swamp x1 x3/4 x1/2
Tundra, frozen x1 x3/4 x3/4

Tactical Movement

Tactical movement is used for combat. Characters generally don’t walk during combat, for obvious reasons—they hustle or run instead. A character who moves his speed and takes some action is hustling for about half the round and doing something else the other half.

Hampered Movement: Difficult terrain, obstacles, and poor visibility can hamper movement (see Table: Hampered Movement for details). When movement is hampered, each square moved into usually counts as two squares, effectively reducing the distance that a character can cover in a move.

If more than one hampering condition applies, multiply all additional costs that apply. This is a specific exception to the normal rule for doubling.

In some situations, your movement may be so hampered that you don’t have sufficient speed even to move 5 feet (1 square). In such a case, you may use a full-round action to move 5 feet (1 square) in any direction, even diagonally. Even though this looks like a 5-foot step, it’s not, and thus it provokes attacks of opportunity normally. (You can’t take advantage of this rule to move through impassable terrain or to move when all movement is prohibited to you.)

You can’t run or charge through any square that would hamper your movement.

Local Movement

Characters exploring an area use local movement, measured in feet per minute.

Walk: A character can walk without a problem on the local scale.

Hustle: A character can hustle without a problem on the local scale. See Overland Movement, below, for movement measured in miles per hour.

Run: A character can run for a number of rounds equal to his Constitution score on the local scale without needing to rest. See Combat for rules covering extended periods of running.

Overland Movement

Characters covering long distances cross-country use overland movement. Overland movement is measured in miles per hour or miles per day. A day represents 8 hours of actual travel time. For rowed watercraft, a day represents 10 hours of rowing. For a sailing ship, it represents 24 hours.

Walk: A character can walk 8 hours in a day of travel without a problem. Walking for longer than that can wear him out (see Forced March, below).

Hustle: A character can hustle for 1 hour without a problem. Hustling for a second hour in between sleep cycles deals 1 point of nonlethal damage, and each additional hour deals twice the damage taken during the previous hour of hustling. A character who takes any nonlethal damage from hustling becomes fatigued.

A fatigued character can’t run or charge and takes a penalty of –2 to Strength and Dexterity. Eliminating the nonlethal damage also eliminates the fatigue.

Run: A character can’t run for an extended period of time. Attempts to run and rest in cycles effectively work out to a hustle.

Terrain: The terrain through which a character travels affects the distance he can cover in an hour or a day (see Table: Terrain and Overland Movement). A highway is a straight, major, paved road. A road is typically a dirt track. A trail is like a road, except that it allows only single-file travel and does not benefit a party traveling with vehicles. Trackless terrain is a wild area with no paths.

Forced March: In a day of normal walking, a character walks for 8 hours. The rest of the daylight time is spent making and breaking camp, resting, and eating.

A character can walk for more than 8 hours in a day by making a forced march. For each hour of marching beyond 8 hours, a Constitution check (DC 10, +2 per extra hour) is required. If the check fails, the character takes 1d6 points of nonlethal damage. A character who takes any nonlethal damage from a forced march becomes fatigued. Eliminating the nonlethal damage also eliminates the fatigue. It’s possible for a character to march into unconsciousness by pushing himself too hard.

Mounted Movement: A mount bearing a rider can move at a hustle. The damage it takes when doing so, however, is lethal damage, not nonlethal damage. The creature can also be ridden in a forced march, but its Constitution checks automatically fail, and the damage it takes is lethal damage. Mounts also become fatigued when they take any damage from hustling or forced marches.

See Table: Mounts and Vehicles for mounted speeds and speeds for vehicles pulled by draft animals.

Waterborne Movement: See Table: Mounts and Vehicles: Mounts and Vehicles for speeds for water vehicles.

Table: Mounts and Vehicles
Mount/Vehicle Per Hour Per Day
Mount (carrying load)
Light horse 5 miles 40 miles
Light horse (175–525 lbs.)1 3-1/2 miles 28 miles
Heavy horse 5 miles 40 miles
Heavy horse (229–690 lbs.)1 3-1/2 miles 28 miles
Pony 4 miles 32 miles
Pony (151–450 lbs.)1 3 miles 24 miles
Dog, riding 4 miles 32 miles
Dog, riding (101–300 lbs.)1 3 miles 24 miles
Cart or wagon 2 miles 16 miles
Raft or barge (poled or towed)2 1/2 mile 5 miles
Keelboat (rowed)2 1 mile 10 miles
Rowboat (rowed)2 1-1/2 miles 15 miles
Sailing ship (sailed) 2 miles 48 miles
Warship (sailed and rowed) 2-1/2 miles 60 miles
Longship (sailed and rowed) 3 miles 72 miles
Galley (rowed and sailed) 4 miles 96 miles

1 Quadrupeds, such as horses, can carry heavier loads than characters can. See Carrying Capacity for more information.
2 Rafts, barges, keelboats, and rowboats are most often used on lakes and rivers. If going downstream, add the speed of the current (typically 3 miles per hour) to the speed of the vehicle. In addition to 10 hours of being rowed, the vehicle can also float an additional 14 hours, if someone can guide it, adding an additional 42 miles to the daily distance traveled. These vehicles can’t be rowed against any significant current, but they can be pulled upstream by draft animals on the shores.

Evasion and Pursuit

In round-by-round movement, when simply counting off squares, it’s impossible for a slow character to get away from a determined fast character without mitigating circumstances. Likewise, it’s no problem for a fast character to get away from a slower one.

When the speeds of the two concerned characters are equal, there’s a simple way to resolve a chase: If one creature is pursuing another, both are moving at the same speed, and the chase continues for at least a few rounds, have them make opposed Dexterity checks to see who is the faster over those rounds. If the creature being chased wins, it escapes. If the pursuer wins, it catches the fleeing creature.

Sometimes a chase occurs overland and could last all day, with the two sides only occasionally getting glimpses of each other at a distance. In the case of a long chase, an opposed Constitution check made by all parties determines which can keep pace the longest. If the creature being chased rolls the highest, it gets away. If not, the chaser runs down its prey, outlasting it with stamina.


Few rules are as vital to the success of adventurers than those pertaining to vision, lighting, and how to break things. Rules for each of these are explained below.

Vision and Light

Dwarves and half-orcs have darkvision, but the other races presented in Races need light to see by. See Table: Light Sources and Illumination for the radius that a light source illuminates and how long it lasts. The increased entry indicates an area outside the lit radius in which the light level is increased by one step (from darkness to dim light, for example).

Additional illumination level info from PZO9466.

Bright Light

In an area of bright light, all characters can see clearly. Some creatures, such as those with light sensitivity and light blindness, take penalties while in areas of bright light. A creature can’t use Stealth in an area of bright light unless it is invisible or has cover. Areas of bright light include outside in direct sunshine and inside the area of a daylight spell.

Bright light is created by direct sunlight, as well as by spells such as daylight.

Color and detail are easily determined by most creatures in bright light, though shiny or reflective surfaces can be difficult to look at.

Creatures with light blindness are blinded when exposed to bright light, and those with light sensitivity are dazzled. It is impossible for characters in bright light to attempt Stealth checks without cover or invisibility.

Normal Light

Normal light functions just like bright light, but characters with light sensitivity and light blindness do not take penalties. Areas of normal light include underneath a forest canopy during the day, within 20 feet of a torch, and inside the area of a light spell.

Areas of normal light might include a glade under a forest canopy during midday, the interior of a room illuminated by indirect sunlight, and the space within 20 feet of a torch or an object affected by the light spell. While colors and fine details may not be as vivid in normal light, characters can still see easily without special forms of vision.

Normal light does not impact characters with light blindness or light sensitivity.

Dim Light

In an area of dim light, a character can see somewhat. Creatures within this area have concealment (20% miss chance in combat) from those without darkvision or the ability to see in darkness. A creature within an area of dim light can make a Stealth check to conceal itself. Areas of dim light include outside at night with a moon in the sky, bright starlight, and the area between 20 and 40 feet from a torch.

Areas of dim light include the outdoors on a moonlit night or the light of a candle in the absence of any other light source. Most sources of normal light cast a radius of dim light out to double the radius of the normal light. In dim light, creatures have concealment from those without some ability to see in darkness and can attempt Stealth checks in order to hide themselves.


In the absence of light, darkness reigns supreme.

Some areas of darkness include unlit chambers of a dungeon, most caverns, and the outdoors on a cloudy, moonless night. Without darkvision or other ability to see in the dark, creatures in darkness are effectively blind. It is impossible to determine the color of an object in total darkness, even with darkvision. Creatures with darkvision see the unlit world only in shades of gray.

In areas of darkness, creatures without darkvision are effectively blinded. In addition to the obvious effects, a blinded creature has a 50% miss chance in combat (all opponents have total concealment), loses any Dexterity bonus to AC, takes a –2 penalty to AC, and takes a –4 penalty on Perception checks that rely on sight and most Strength- and Dexterity-based skill checks. Areas of darkness include an unlit dungeon chamber, most caverns, and outside on a cloudy, moonless night.

Characters with low-light vision (elves, gnomes, and half-elves) can see objects twice as far away as the given radius. Double the effective radius of bright light, normal light, and dim light for such characters.

Characters with darkvision (dwarves and half-orcs) can see lit areas normally as well as dark areas within 60 feet. A creature can’t hide within 60 feet of a character with darkvision unless it is invisible or has cover.

Table: Light Sources and Illumination
Object Normal Increased Duration
Candle n/a1 5 ft. 1 hr.
Everburning torch 20 ft. 40 ft. Permanent
Lamp, common 15 ft. 30 ft. 6 hr./pint
Lantern, bullseye 60-ft. cone 120-ft. cone 6 hr./pint
Lantern, hooded 30 ft. 60 ft. 6 hr./pint
Sunrod 30 ft. 60 ft. 6 hr.
Torch 20 ft. 40 ft. 1 hr.
Spell Normal Increase Duration
Continual flame 20 ft. 40 ft. Permanent
Dancing lights (torches) 20 ft. (each) 40 ft. (each) 1 min.
Daylight 60 ft.2 120 ft. 10 min./level
Light 20 ft. 40 ft. 10 min./level

1 A candle does not provide normal illumination, only dim illumination. 2 The light for a daylight spell is bright light.

Breaking and Entering

When attempting to break an object, you have two choices:

  1. Smash it with a weapon.
  2. Break it with sheer strength.

Smashing an Object

Smashing a weapon or shield with a slashing or bludgeoning weapon is accomplished with the sunder combat maneuver (see Combat). Smashing an object is like sundering a weapon or shield, except that your combat maneuver check is opposed by the object’s AC. Generally, you can smash an object only with a bludgeoning or slashing weapon.

Armor Class: Objects are easier to hit than creatures because they don’t usually move, but many are tough enough to shrug off some damage from each blow. An object’s Armor Class is equal to 10 + its size modifier (see Table: Size and Armor Class of Objects) + its Dexterity modifier. An inanimate object has not only a Dexterity of 0 (–5 penalty to AC), but also an additional –2 penalty to its AC. Furthermore, if you take a full-round action to line up a shot, you get an automatic hit with a melee weapon and a +5 bonus on attack rolls with a ranged weapon.

Hardness: Each object has hardness—a number that represents how well it resists damage. When an object is damaged, subtract its hardness from the damage. Only damage in excess of its hardness is deducted from the object’s hit points (see Table: Common Armor, Weapon, and Shield Hardness and Hit Points, Table: Substance Hardness and Hit Points, and Table: Object Hardness and Hit Points).

Hit Points: An object’s hit point total depends on what it is made of and how big it is (see Table: Common Armor, Weapon, and Shield Hardness and Hit Points, Table: Substance Hardness and Hit Points, and Table: Object Hardness and Hit Points). Objects that take damage equal to or greater than half their total hit points gain the broken condition. When an object’s hit points reach 0, it’s ruined.

Very large objects have separate hit point totals for different sections.

Energy Attacks: Energy attacks deal half damage to most objects. Divide the damage by 2 before applying the object’s hardness. Some energy types might be particularly effective against certain objects, subject to GM discretion. For example, fire might do full damage against parchment, cloth, and other objects that burn easily. Sonic might do full damage against glass and crystal objects.

Ranged Weapon Damage: Objects take half damage from ranged weapons (unless the weapon is a siege engine or something similar). Divide the damage dealt by 2 before applying the object’s hardness.

Ineffective Weapons: Certain weapons just can’t effectively deal damage to certain objects. For example, a bludgeoning weapon cannot be used to damage a rope. Likewise, most melee weapons have little effect on stone walls and doors, unless they are designed for breaking up stone, such as a pick or hammer.

Immunities: Objects are immune to nonlethal damage and to critical hits. Even animated objects, which are otherwise considered creatures, have these immunities.

Magic Armor, Shields, and Weapons: Each +1 of enhancement bonus adds 2 to the hardness of armor, a weapon, or a shield, and +10 to the item’s hit points.

Vulnerability to Certain Attacks: Certain attacks are especially successful against some objects. In such cases, attacks deal double their normal damage and may ignore the object’s hardness.

Damaged Objects: A damaged object remains functional with the broken condition until the item’s hit points are reduced to 0, at which point it is destroyed. Damaged (but not destroyed) objects can be repaired with the Craft skill and a number of spells.

Saving Throws: Non-magical, unattended items never make saving throws. They are considered to have failed their saving throws, so they are always fully affected by spells and other attacks that allow saving throws to resist or negate. An item attended by a character (being grasped, touched, or worn) makes saving throws as the character (that is, using the character’s saving throw bonus).

Magic items always get saving throws. A magic item’s Fortitude, Reflex, and Will save bonuses are equal to 2 + half its caster level. An attended magic item either makes saving throws as its owner or uses its own saving throw bonus, whichever is better.

Animated Objects: Animated objects count as creatures for purposes of determining their Armor Class (do not treat them as inanimate objects).

Breaking Items

When a character tries to break or burst something with sudden force rather than by dealing damage, use a Strength check (rather than an attack roll and damage roll, as with the sunder special attack) to determine whether he succeeds. Since hardness doesn’t affect an object’s Break DC, this value depends more on the construction of the item than on the material the item is made of. Consult Table: DCs to Break or Burst Items for a list of common Break DCs.

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

Larger and smaller creatures get size bonuses and size penalties on Strength checks to break open doors as follows: Fine –16, Diminutive –12, Tiny –8, Small –4, Large +4, Huge +8, Gargantuan +12, Colossal +16.

Note: Oil provides a +2 circumstance bonus on checks to open stuck doors and locks (Source Dungeoneer’s Handbook.)

A crowbar or portable ram improves a character’s chance of breaking open a door (see Equipment).

Table: Size and Armor Class of Objects
Size AC Modifier
Colossal –8
Gargantuan –4
Huge –2
Large –1
Medium +0
Small +1
Tiny +2
Diminutive +4
Fine +8
Table: Substance Hardness and Hit Points
Substance Hardness Hit Points
Glass 1 1/in. of thickness
Paper or cloth 0 2/in. of thickness
Rope 0 2/in. of thickness
Ice 0 3/in. of thickness
Leather or hide 2 5/in. of thickness
Wood 5 10/in. of thickness
Stone 8 15/in. of thickness
Iron or steel 10 30/in. of thickness
Mithral 15 30/in. of thickness
Adamantine 20 40/in. of thickness
Table: DCs to Break or Burst Items
Strength Check to: DC
Break down simple door 13
Break down good door 18
Break down strong door 23
Burst rope bonds 23
Bend iron bars 24
Break down barred door 25
Burst chain bonds 26
Break down iron door 28
Condition DC Adjustment*
Hold portal +5
Arcane lock +10

* If both apply, use the larger number.

Table: Object Hardness and Hit Points
Object Hardness Hit Points Break DC
Rope (1 in. diameter) 0 2 23
Simple wooden door 5 10 13
Small chest 5 1 17
Good wooden door 5 15 18
Treasure chest 5 15 23
Strong wooden door 5 20 23
Masonry wall (1 ft. thick) 8 90 35
Hewn stone (3 ft. thick) 8 540 50
Chain 10 5 26
Manacles 10 10 26
Masterwork manacles 10 10 28
Iron door (2 in. thick) 10 60 28
Table: Common Armor, Weapon, and Shield Hardness and Hit Points
Weapon or Shield Hardness1 Hit Points2, 3
Light blade 10 2
One-handed blade 10 5
Two-handed blade 10 10
Light metal-hafted weapon 10 10
One-handed metal-hafted weapon 10 20
Light hafted weapon 5 2
One-handed hafted weapon 5 5
Two-handed hafted weapon 5 10
Projectile weapon 5 5
Armor Special4 Armor bonus × 5
Buckler 10 5
Light wooden shield 5 7
Heavy wooden shield 5 15
Light steel shield 10 10
Heavy steel shield 10 20
Tower shield 5 20

1 Add +2 for each +1 enhancement bonus of magic items.
2 The hp value given is for Medium armor, weapons, and shields. Divide by 2 for each size category of the item smaller than Medium, or multiply it by 2 for each size category larger than Medium.
3 Add 10 hp for each +1 enhancement bonus of magic items.
4 Varies by material; see Table: Substance Hardness and Hit Points.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook. Copyright 2009, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Jason Bulmahn, based on material by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams.

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