Rules Index | GM Screen | Player's Guide

Chapter 9: Playing the Game / Encounter Mode

Movement in Encounters

Source Core Rulebook pg. 473 2.0
Your movement during encounter mode depends on the actions and other abilities you use. Whether you Stride, Step, Swim, or Climb, the maximum distance you can move is based on your Speed. Certain feats or magic items can grant you other movement types, allowing you to swiftly burrow, climb, fly, or swim (page 463).

When the rules refer to a “movement cost” or “spending movement,” they are describing how many feet of your Speed you must use to move from one point to another. Normally, movement costs 5 feet per square when you’re moving on a grid, or it costs the number of feet you move if you’re not using a grid. However, sometimes it’s harder to move a certain distance due to difficult terrain (page 475) or other factors. In such a case, you might have to spend a different amount of movement to move from one place to another. For example, a form of movement might require 10 feet of movement to move 1 square, and moving through some types of terrain costs an extra 5 feet of movement per square.

Grid Movement

Source Core Rulebook pg. 473 2.0
If an encounter involves combat, it’s often a good idea to track the movement and relative position of the participants using a Pathfinder Flip-Mat, Flip-Tiles, or some other form of grid to display the terrain, and miniatures to represent the combatants. When a character moves on a grid, every 1-inch square of the play area is 5 feet across in the game world. Hence, a creature moving in a straight line spends 5 feet of its movement for every map square traveled.

Because moving diagonally covers more ground, you count that movement differently. The first square of diagonal movement you make in a turn counts as 5 feet, but the second counts as 10 feet, and your count thereafter alternates between the two. For example, as you move across 4 squares diagonally, you would count 5 feet, then 10, then 5, and then 10, for a total of 30 feet. You track your total diagonal movement across all your movement during your turn, but reset your count at the end of your turn.

Size, Space, and Reach

Source Core Rulebook pg. 473 2.0
Creatures and objects of different sizes occupy different amounts of space. The sizes and the spaces they each take up on a grid are listed in Table 9–1: Size and Reach (page 474). Table 9–1 also lists the typical reach for creatures of each size, for both tall creatures (most bipeds) and long creatures (most quadrupeds). See page 455 for more about reach.

The Space entry lists how many feet on a side a creature’s space is, so a Large creature fills a 10-foot-by-10-foot space (4 squares on the grid). Sometimes part of a creature extends beyond its space, such as if a giant octopus is grabbing you with its tentacles. In that case, the GM will usually allow attacking the extended portion, even if you can’t reach the main creature. A Small or larger creature or object takes up at least 1 square on a grid, and creatures of these sizes can’t usually share spaces except in situations like a character riding a mount. Rules for moving through other creatures’ spaces appear below.

Table 9-1: Size and Reach

SizeSpaceReach (Tall)Reach (Long)
TinyLess than 5 feet0 feet0 feet
Small5 feet5 feet5 feet
Medium5 feet5 feet5 feet
Large10 feet10 feet5 feet
Huge15 feet15 feet10 feet
Gargantuan20 feet or more20 feet15 feet

Multiple Tiny creatures can occupy the same square. At least four can fit in a single square, though the GM might determine that even more can fit. Tiny creatures can occupy a space occupied by a larger creature as well, and if their reach is 0 feet, they must do so in order to attack.

Move Actions that Trigger Reactions

Source Core Rulebook pg. 474 2.0
Some reactions and free actions are triggered by a creature using an action with the move trait. The most notable example is Attack of Opportunity. Actions with the move trait can trigger reactions or free actions throughout the course of the distance traveled. Each time you exit a square (or move 5 feet if not using a grid) within a creature’s reach, your movement triggers those reactions and free actions (although no more than once per move action for a given reacting creature). If you use a move action but don’t move out of a square, the trigger instead happens at the end of that action or ability.

Some actions, such as Step, specifically state they don’t trigger reactions or free actions based on movement.

Moving Through a Creature's Space

Source Core Rulebook pg. 474 2.0
You can move through the space of a willing creature. If you want to move through an unwilling creature’s space, you can Tumble Through that creature’s space using Acrobatics. You can’t end your turn in a square occupied by another creature, though you can end a move action in its square provided that you immediately use another move action to leave that square. If two creatures end up in the same square by accident, the GM determines which one is forced out of the square (or whether one falls prone).

Prone and Incapacitated Creatures

Source Core Rulebook pg. 474 2.0
You can share a space with a prone creature if that creature is willing, unconscious, or dead and if it is your size or smaller. The GM might allow you to climb atop the corpse or unconscious body of a larger creature in some situations. A prone creature can’t stand up while someone else occupies its space, but it can Crawl to a space where it’s able to stand, or it can attempt to Shove the other creature out of the way.

Creatures of Different Sizes

Source Core Rulebook pg. 475 2.0
In most cases, you can move through the space of a creature at least three sizes larger than you (Table 9-1). This means a Medium creature can move through the space of a Gargantuan creature and a Small creature can move through the space of a Huge creature. Likewise, a bigger creature can move through the space of a creature three sizes smaller than itself or smaller. You still can’t end your movement in a space occupied by a creature.

Tiny creatures are an exception. They can move through creatures’ spaces and can even end their movement there.


Source Core Rulebook pg. 475 2.0
Because objects aren’t as mobile as creatures are, they’re more likely to fill a space. This means you can’t always move through their spaces like you might move through a space occupied by a creature. You might be able to occupy the same square as a statue of your size, but not a wide column. The GM determines whether you can move into an object’s square normally, whether special rules apply, or if you are unable to move into the square at all.

Forced Movement

Source Core Rulebook pg. 475 2.0
When an effect forces you to move, or if you start falling, the distance you move is defined by the effect that moved you, not by your Speed. Because you’re not acting to move, this doesn’t trigger reactions that are triggered by movement.

If forced movement would move you into a space you can’t occupy—because objects are in the way or because you lack the movement type needed to reach it, for example—you stop moving in the last space you can occupy. Usually the creature or effect forcing the movement chooses the path the victim takes. If you’re pushed or pulled, you can usually be moved through hazardous terrain, pushed off a ledge, or the like. Abilities that reposition you in some other way can’t put you in such dangerous places unless they specify otherwise. In all cases, the GM makes the final call if there’s doubt on where forced movement can move a creature.


Source Core Rulebook pg. 475 2.0
Several types of terrain can complicate your movement by slowing you down, damaging you, or endangering you.

Difficult Terrain

Source Core Rulebook pg. 475 2.0
Difficult terrain is any terrain that impedes your movement, ranging from particularly rough or unstable surfaces to thick ground cover and countless other impediments. Moving into a square of difficult terrain (or moving 5 feet into or within an area of difficult terrain, if you’re not using a grid) costs an extra 5 feet of movement. Moving into a square of greater difficult terrain instead costs 10 additional feet of movement. This additional cost is not increased when moving diagonally. You can’t Step into difficult terrain.

Movement you make while you are jumping ignores the terrain you’re jumping over. Some abilities (such as flight or being incorporeal) allow you to avoid the movement reduction from some types of difficult terrain. Certain other abilities let you ignore difficult terrain on foot; such an ability also allows you to move through greater difficult terrain at the normal movement cost as for difficult terrain, though it wouldn’t let you ignore greater difficult terrain unless the ability specifies otherwise.

Hazardous Terrain

Source Core Rulebook pg. 476 2.0
Hazardous terrain damages you whenever you move through it. An acid pool and a pit of burning embers are both examples of hazardous terrain. The amount and type of damage depend on the specific hazardous terrain.

Narrow Surfaces

Source Core Rulebook pg. 476 2.0
A narrow surface is so precariously thin that you need to Balance (see Acrobatics) or risk falling. Even on a success, you are flat-footed on a narrow surface. Each time you are hit by an attack or fail a save on a narrow surface, you must succeed at a Reflex save (with the same DC as the Acrobatics check to Balance) or fall.

Uneven Ground

Source Core Rulebook pg. 476 2.0
Uneven ground is an area unsteady enough that you need to Balance (see Acrobatics) or risk falling prone and possibly injuring yourself, depending on the specifics of the uneven ground. You are flat-footed on uneven ground. Each time you are hit by an attack or fail a save on uneven ground, you must succeed at a Reflex save (with the same DC as the Acrobatics check to Balance) or fall prone.


Source Core Rulebook pg. 476 2.0
An incline is an area so steep that you need to Climb using the Athletics skill in order to progress upward. You’re flat-footed when Climbing an incline.


Source Core Rulebook pg. 476 2.0
When you and an ally are flanking a foe, it has a harder time defending against you. A creature is flat-footed (taking a –2 circumstance penalty to AC) to creatures that are flanking it.

To flank a foe, you and your ally must be on opposite sides of the creature. A line drawn between the center of your space and the center of your ally's space must pass through opposite sides or opposite corners of the foe's space. Additionally, both you and the ally have to be able to act, you must be wielding melee weapons or be able to make an unarmed attack, you can't be under any effects that prevent you from attacking, and you must both have the enemy within reach. If you are wielding a reach weapon, you use your reach with that weapon for this purpose.


Source Core Rulebook pg. 477 2.0
When you’re behind an obstacle that could block weapons, guard you against explosions, and make you harder to detect, you’re behind cover. Standard cover gives you a +2 circumstance bonus to AC, to Reflex saves against area effects, and to Stealth checks to Hide, Sneak, or otherwise avoid detection. You can increase this to greater cover using the Take Cover basic action, increasing the circumstance bonus to +4. If cover is especially light, typically when it’s provided by a creature, you have lesser cover, which grants a +1 circumstance bonus to AC. A creature with standard cover or greater cover can attempt to use Stealth to Hide, but lesser cover isn’t sufficient.

Cover is relative, so you might simultaneously have cover against one creature and not another. Cover applies only if your path to the target is partially blocked. If a creature is entirely behind a wall or the like, you don’t have line of effect and typically can’t target it at all.

Usually, the GM can quickly decide whether your target has cover. If you’re uncertain or need to be more precise, draw a line from the center of your space to the center of the target’s space. If that line passes through any terrain or object that would block the effect, the target has standard cover (or greater cover if the obstruction is extreme or the target has Taken Cover). If the line passes through a creature instead, the target has lesser cover. When measuring cover against an area effect, draw the line from the effect’s point of origin to the center of the creature’s space.

Cover and Large Creatures

Source Core Rulebook pg. 477 2.0
If a creature between you and a target is two or more sizes larger than both you and your target, that creature’s space blocks the effect enough to provide standard cover instead of lesser cover. The GM might determine that a creature doesn’t gain cover from terrain that it’s significantly larger than. For example, a Huge dragon probably wouldn’t receive any benefit from being behind a 1-foot-wide pillar.

Special Circumstances

Source Core Rulebook pg. 477 2.0
Your GM might allow you to overcome your target’s cover in some situations. If you’re right next to an arrow slit, you can shoot without penalty, but you have greater cover against someone shooting back at you from far away. Your GM might let you reduce or negate cover by leaning around a corner to shoot or the like. This usually takes an action to set up, and the GM might measure cover from an edge or corner of your space instead of your center.