Friday, November 20, 2015

5 More Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting

Apologies to all my readers for the skip week, but I was at Windy Con in Chicago last Friday, and between travel time, panels, readings, and networking just didn't have the time to put up a new entry. However, I'm back now, so I thought I'd add on to what has been one of my most popular series thus far by pointing out even more rules Pathfinder players tend to forget, mis-remember, or just flat-out not know.

Previous entries in this series are:

Playing By The Book: Some Pathfinder Rules That Players Keep Forgetting
MORE Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting
Even MORE Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting
Still More Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting
5 More Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting

What didn't I cover in the first four installments? Well...

Rule #1: You Can Charge As A Standard Action

Time to bring the pain!
This one actually requires a bit of clarification. Under the charge rules on page 198 of the Core Rulebook, if you are limited to taking only a standard action on your turn (as you would be when staggered, like when you're below 0 hit points and have the Die Hard feat, or if you're acting in the surprise round), you can make what I refer to as a partial charge. It's the same as a normal charge attack, except you can only move up to your movement speed, and you can't draw a weapon during the charge unless you have Quick Draw. Just the thing for that suicidal barbarian who wants to wager it all on a single roll of the die.

Rule #2: Damage Reduction and Energy Resistance Are Different

Damage reduction and energy resistance are both traits we tend to associate more with monsters than we do with PCs, but there are a lot of class archetypes and playable races that will get one, or both, of these abilities. And they seem simple, but judging from the posts I see in the groups I frequent, they're often confused. So, here's the simple run down you need to know when you have these powers.

Energy resistance is for energy damage (like fire, cold, acid, etc.). It doesn't matter if it's magical or mundane. If you get hit with alchemist's fire, or a fireball, and you have fire resistance 5, you take 5 off the damage you would have been dealt, according to page 562 of the Core Rulebook.

But what about damage reduction?
Damage reduction, the barbarian's best friend, applies only to normal attacks (normal in this case being from weapons, as opposed to being hit by something that deals elemental damage or untyped damage from a spell) according to page 561 of the Core Rulebook. So, if someone hits you with a longsword, and you have DR 5/-, then you take 5 points off that damage. If that longsword has the flaming quality, though, the fire damage still goes through, unless you also have fire resistance.

It should be noted, though, that spells which specifically deal bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage are subject to DR. As mentioned in Paizo's FAQ, spells like ice storm, which deal bludgeoning damage, will still be blocked by a zombie's DR 5/slashing.

Rule #3: You Can Take A 5-Foot Step During Your Readied Action

The 5-foot step is the best friend to adventurers everywhere. It allows you to get some breathing room before casting a spell, or to back up before shooting a zombie in the skull. But the villains also have access to the mystical 5-foot step, and there is nothing worse than your readied action becoming useless because your target backed off 5 feet before triggering your action.

It's okay, just follow him!

Your clever plan, you did not think it through!
According to page 203 of the Core Rulebook you may take a 5-foot step as part of your readied action, provided that you have not moved during that round, and provided that your readied action isn't a move action. So if you took a move-equivalent action like, say, standing up from your seat in the tavern, and you ready an action to deck the spellcaster if he tries anything, moving 5 feet back from you won't save his face from your fist.

A handy thing to know for all the tacticians out there.

Rule #4: You Can Totally Catch Falling Party Members

We've all been there. The party has to climb to the top of a chasm wall, or go up a chimney in harpy-infested territory, and no one has any means to actually fly. So you break out the pitons and the rope, knowing that as soon as you're high enough for the stakes to really matter, someone's going to fall. And when they do, you'll have to recruit a new party member.

Or will you?

Not if you have very good arms.
According to page 91 of the Core Rulebook, if someone climbing above you or adjacent to you falls, then you can make a melee touch attack to grab them. The falling character can willingly forego his or her dex bonus to AC in order to make the grab easier. Once you've snatched your falling party member, you have to make a climb check equal to the wall's DC + 10 in order to stay in place. If you fail by 4 or less, you lose your grip on your party member, but don't fall. If you fail by 5 or more, you lose your grip on both. Also, said party member and all the gear that person is carrying can't exceed your heavy load, or you automatically fall.

Again, you want the brawny fighter at the bottom to be sure you catch the falling wizard.

Rule #5: Invisible Creatures Gain Bonuses on Attacks

This one is for both DMs, and for lovers of ninjas, rogues, and dastardly magi. We all know about the ridiculous bonuses you get to stealth while you're invisible, but if you are invisible and attacking sighted opponents, then you also get a +2 to attack rolls. This is over and above the benefits you get for ignoring the dexterity bonuses to AC your targets receive. All of this according to the description of the invisible condition on page 567 of the Core Rulebook.

Good news for the 15 invisible kobolds who won the initiative order.
And that, my loyal readers, is the latest installment of this particular series. As more books are released, and more games are played, I'm sure I'll have even more fun things to share with you. Until then, follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter to get all of my updates, and if you want to help me keep producing content just like this, then consider visiting my Patreon page to become a patron today!


  1. Can you provide a citation for that last one?

  2. Nice, though I have one minor query - I thought DR didn't apply to falling damage, only to attacks. Has that changed?

    1. This has been asked several times now. I have been looking for where it specifically says this, but all I can see is how it says "attacks and blows" under the initial description. So, while it seems odd, DR seems like something that is meant to work against weapons expressly.

    2. Well, "weapon damage" including natural weapons. Basically DR reduces any damage that deals bludgeoning-, piercing-, or slashing-type damage.

    3. Doesnt falling damage count as bludgeoning?

  3. Maybe when you hit the ground, breaking the skin is the least of your worries when your organs rearrange themselves into a thin soup on the inside. :)

  4. Another good list of forgotten rules. My favorate that I don;t think you have mentioned in any list is completing a full round action as 2 standard actions, CRB pg. 186. While you can't use it to full attack, run, charge, or withdraw, you can use it to cast a full round action spell as 2 standard actions, allowing you to move during the turn you start casting it.