Swimming across a rushing river, sneaking down a dungeon corridor, scaling a treacherous mountain slope — all sorts of movement play a key role in fantasy gaming adventures.
The GM can summarize the adventurers’ movement without calculating exact distances or travel times: “You travel through the forest and find the dungeon entrance late in the evening of the third day.” Even in a dungeon, particularly a large dungeon or a cave network, the GM can summarize movement between encounters: “After killing the guardian at the entrance to the ancient dwarven stronghold, you consult your map, which leads you through miles of echoing corridors to a chasm bridged by a narrow stone arch.”
Sometimes it’s important, though, to know how long it takes to get from one spot to another, whether the answer is in days, hours, or minutes. The rules for determining travel time depend on two factors: the speed and travel pace of the creatures moving and the terrain they’re moving over.
- 1 Speed
- 2 Travel Pace
- 3 Difficult Terrain
- 4 Special Types of Movement
- 5 Movement and Position
- 6 Sources
Every character and monster has a speed, which is the distance in feet that the character or monster can walk in 1 round. This number assumes short bursts of energetic movement in the midst of a life-threatening situation.
The following rules determine how far a character or monster can move in a minute, an hour, or a day.
While traveling, a group of adventurers can move at a normal, fast, or slow pace, as shown on the Travel Pace table. The table states how far the party can move in a period of time and whether the pace has any effect. A fast pace makes characters less perceptive, while a slow pace makes it possible to sneak around and to search an area more carefully.
The Travel Pace table assumes that characters travel for 8 hours in day. They can push on beyond that limit, at the risk of exhaustion. For each additional hour of travel beyond 8 hours, the characters cover the distance shown in the Hour column for their pace, and each character must make a Constitution saving throw at the end of the hour. The DC is 10 + 1 for each hour past 8 hours. On a failed saving throw, a character suffers one level of exhaustion (see appendix PH-A]]).
Mounts and Vehicles
For short spans of time (up to an hour), many animals move much faster than humanoids. A mounted character can ride at a gallop for about an hour, covering twice the usual distance for a fast pace. If fresh mounts are available every 8 to 10 miles, characters can cover larger distances at this pace, but this is very rare except in densely populated areas.
Characters in wagons, carriages, or other land vehicles choose a pace as normal. Characters in a waterborne vessel are limited to the speed of the vessel, and they don’t suffer penalties for a fast pace or gain benefits from a slow pace. Depending on the vessel and the size of the crew, ships might be able to travel for up to 24 hours per day.
Travel Pace Table
|Pace||Distance Traveled per ...||Effect|
|Fast||400 feet||4 miles||30 miles||-5 penalty to passive Wisdom (Perception) scores|
|Normal||300 feet||3 miles||24 miles||—|
|Slow||200 feet||2 miles||18 miles||Able to use stealth|
The travel speeds given in the Travel Pace table assume relatively simple terrain: roads, open plains, or clear dungeon corridors. But adventurers often face dense forests, deep swamps, rubble-filled ruins, steep mountains, and ice-covered ground — all considered difficult terrain.
You move at half speed in difficult terrain — moving 1 foot in difficult terrain costs 2 feet of speed — so you can cover only half the normal distance in a minute, an hour, or a day.
Special Types of Movement
Movement through dangerous dungeons or wilderness areas often involves more than simply walking. Adventurers might have to climb, crawl, swim, or jump to get where they need to go.
Climbing, Swimming, and Crawling
While climbing or swimming, each foot of movement costs 1 extra foot (2 extra feet in difficult terrain), unless a creature has a climbing or swimming speed. At the GM’s option, climbing a slippery vertical surface or one with few handholds requires a successful Strength (Athletics) check. Similarly, gaining any distance in rough water might require a successful Strength (Athletics) check.
Your Strength determines how far you can jump.
When you make a long jump, you cover a number of feet up to your Strength score if you move at least 10 feet on foot immediately before the jump. When you make a standing long jump, you can leap only half that distance. Either way, each foot you clear on the jump costs a foot of movement.
This rule assumes that the height of your jump doesn’t matter, such as a jump across a stream or chasm. At your GM’s option, you must succeed on a DC 10 Strength (Athletics) check to clear a low obstacle (no taller than a quarter of the jump’s distance), such as a hedge or low wall. Otherwise, you hit it.
When you make a high jump, you leap into the air a number of feet equal to 3 + your Strength modifier if you move at least 10 feet on foot immediately before the jump. When you make a standing high jump, you can jump only half that distance. Either way, each foot you clear on the jump costs a foot of movement. In some circumstances, your GM might allow you to make a Strength (Athletics) check to jump higher than you normally can.
You can extend your arms half your height above yourself during the jump. Thus, you can reach above you a distance equal to the height of the jump plus 1½ times your height.
Movement and Position
On your turn, you can move a distance up to your speed. You can use as much or as little of your speed as you like on your turn, following the rules here.
Your movement can include jumping, climbing, and swimming. These different modes of movement can be combined with walking, or they can constitute your entire move. However you’re moving, you deduct the distance of each part of your move from your speed until it is used up or until you are done moving.
Breaking Up Your Move
You can break up your movement on your turn, using some of your speed before and after your action. For example, if you have a speed of 30 feet, you can move 10 feet, take your action, and then move 20 feet.
Moving between Attacks
If you take an action that includes more than one weapon attack, you can break up your movement even further by moving between those attacks. For example, a fighter who can make two attacks with the Extra Attack feature and who has a speed of 25 feet could move 10 feet, make an attack, move 15 feet, and then attack again.
Using Different Speeds
If you have more than one speed, such as your walking speed and a flying speed, you can switch back and forth between your speeds during your move. Whenever you switch, subtract the distance you’ve already moved from the new speed. The result determines how much farther you can move. If the result is 0 or less, you can’t use the new speed during the current move.
For example, if you have a speed of 30 and a flying speed of 60 because a wizard cast the fly spell on you, you could fly 20 feet, then walk 10 feet, and then leap into the air to fly 30 feet more.
Combat rarely takes place in bare rooms or on featureless plains. Boulder-strewn caverns, briar-choked forests, treacherous staircases — the setting of a typical fight contains difficult terrain.
Every foot of movement in difficult terrain costs 1 extra foot. This rule is true even if multiple things in a space count as difficult terrain.
Low furniture, rubble, undergrowth, steep stairs, snow, and shallow bogs are examples of difficult terrain. The space of another creature, whether hostile or not, also counts as difficult terrain.
Combatants often find themselves lying on the ground, either because they are knocked down or because they throw themselves down. In the game, they are prone, a condition described in appendix PH-A.
You can drop prone without using any of your speed. Standing up takes more effort; doing so costs an amount of movement equal to half your speed. For example, if your speed is 30 feet, you must spend 15 feet of movement to stand up. You can’t stand up if you don’t have enough movement left or if your speed is 0.
To move while prone, you must crawl or use magic such as teleportation. Every foot of movement while crawling costs 1 extra foot. Crawling 1 foot in difficult terrain, therefore, costs 3 feet of movement.
Interacting with Objects Around You
Here are a few examples of the sorts of thing you can do in tandem with your movement and action:
- draw or sheathe a sword
- open or close a door
- withdraw a potion from your backpack
- pick up a dropped axe
- take a bauble from a table
- remove a ring from your finger
- stuff some food into your mouth
- plant a banner in the ground
- fish a few coins from your belt pouch
- drink all the ale in a flagon
- throw a lever or a switch
- pull a torch from a sconce
- take a book from a shelf you can reach
- extinguish a small flame
- don a mask
- pull the hood of your cloak up and over your head
- put your ear to a door
- kick a small stone
- turn a key in a lock
- tap the floor with a 10-foot pole
- hand an item to another character
Moving Around Other Creatures
You can move through a nonhostile creature’s space. In contrast, you can move through a hostile creature’s space only if the creature is at least two sizes larger or smaller than you. Remember that another creature’s space is difficult terrain for you.
Whether a creature is a friend or an enemy, you can’t willingly end your move in its space.
Flying creatures enjoy many benefits of mobility, but they must also deal with the danger of falling. If a flying creature is knocked prone, has its speed reduced to 0, or is otherwise deprived of the ability to move, the creature falls, unless it has the ability to hover or it is being held aloft by magic, such as by the fly spell.
Each creature takes up a different amount of space. The Size Categories table shows how much space a creature of a particular size controls in combat. Objects sometimes use the same size categories.
|Tiny||2½ by 2½ ft.||imp, sprite|
|Small||5 by 5 ft.||Giant rat, goblin|
|Medium||5 by 5 ft.||Orc, werewolf|
|Large||10 by 10 ft.||Hippogriff, ogre|
|Huge||15 by 15 ft.||Fire Giant, treant|
|Gargantuan||20 by 20 ft. or larger||Kraken, purple worm|
A creature’s space is the area in feet that it effectively controls in combat, not an expression of its physical dimensions. A typical Medium creature isn’t 5 feet wide, for example, but it does control a space that wide. If a Medium hobgoblin stands in a 5-foot-wide doorway, other creatures can’t get through unless the hobgoblin lets them.
A creature’s space also reflects the area it needs to fight effectively. For that reason, there’s a limit to the number of creatures that can surround another creature in combat. Assuming Medium combatants, eight creatures can fit in a 5-foot radius around another one.
Because larger creatures take up more space, fewer of them can surround a creature. If five Large creatures crowd around a Medium or smaller one, there’s little room for anyone else. In contrast, as many as twenty Medium creatures can surround a Gargantuan one.
Squeezing into a Smaller Space
A creature can squeeze through a space that is large enough for a creature one size smaller than it. Thus, a Large creature can squeeze through a passage that’s only 5 feet wide. While squeezing through a space, a creature must spend 1 extra foot for every foot it moves there, and it has disadvantage on attack rolls and Dexterity saving throws. Attack rolls against the creature have advantage while it’s in the smaller space.
- SRD-OGL v5.1 - 5th edition SRD Editor's Note: This articles was taken from two places in the SRD; the Movement section (p.84-85) and the Combat section (p.91-92).
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