Kryx RPGThemes

Combat

The clatter of a sword striking against a shield. The terrible rending sound as monstrous claws tear through armor. A brilliant flash of light as a ball of flame blossoms from a spell. The sharp tang of blood in the air, cutting through the stench of vile creatures. Roars of fury, shouts of triumph, cries of pain. Combat in KryxRPG can be chaotic, deadly, and thrilling.

Table of contents

Overview

This section provides the rules you need for your characters and creatures to engage in combat, whether it is a brief skirmish or an extended conflict in a dungeon or on a field of battle. Throughout this section, the rules address you, the player or Game Master (GM). The Game Master (GM) controls all the creatures and nonplayer characters involved in combat, and each other player controls an adventurer. “You” can also mean the character or creature that you control.

The order of combat

A typical combat encounter is a clash between two sides, a flurry of weapon swings, feints, parries, footwork, and spellcasting. The game organizes the chaos of combat into a cycle of rounds and turns. A round represents about 6 seconds in the game world. During a round, each participant in a battle takes a turn. The order of turns is determined at the beginning of a combat encounter, when everyone rolls initiative. Once everyone has taken a turn, the fight continues to the next round if neither side has defeated the other.

Combat step by step

  1. Establish positions. The GM decides where all the characters and creatures are located. Given the adventurers’ marching order or their stated positions in the room or other location, the GM figures out where the adversaries are—how far away and in what direction.

  2. Roll initiative. Everyone involved in the combat encounter rolls initiative, determining the order of combatants’ turns.

  3. Take turns. Each participant in the battle takes a turn in initiative order.

  4. Begin the next round. When everyone involved in the combat has had a turn, the round ends. Repeat step 3 until the fighting stops.

Initiative

Initiative determines the order of turns during combat. When combat starts, every participant makes a check to determine their place in the initiative order.

The check used to determine your initiative varies based on the circumstances by which combat started (see below).

The GM ranks the combatants in order from the one with the highest check total to the one with the lowest. This is the order (called the initiative order) in which they act during each round.

If a tie occurs, the GM decides the order among tied GM-controlled creatures, and the players decide the order among their tied characters. The GM can decide the order if the tie is between a creature and a player character. Optionally, the GM can have the tied characters and creatures each reroll the check to determine the order, highest roll going first.

If a creature joins a combat during another creature’s turn and its initiative roll is higher than the initiative roll of the current creature’s turn, it acts immediately after the current creature’s turn.

Example skills used for initiative

The skill used for initiative depends on the circumstances by which combat started. For example, if you were Avoiding notice while exploring a dusty dungeon, you’d roll a Stealth check. A social encounter could call for a Deception check.

  • Athletics might be used if you actively chose to rush through a door or use another athletic way of initiating or joining combat.

  • Brawn might be used if you actively chose to initiate combat by breaking through a door.

  • Deception is used if you were actively trying to hide your intention of initiating combat.

  • Insight is used if you react to the combat initiator hiding their intention to initiate combat using Deception.

  • Nimbleness is used if you react to some event initiating combat, relying on your reaction speed to act quickly.

  • Perception is used if you actively choose to be on the lookout or if you react to spotting, hearing, or otherwise detecting the presence of something.

  • Sleight of hand is used if you actively choose to pilfer a pocket, plant an object, open a lock, or arm a trap or device.

  • Stealth is used if you were actively trying to avoid notice when combat started.

Practical scenario examples

  • A group of adventurers sneaks up on a bandit camp, springing from the trees to attack them. In this scenario:

    • the adventurers use Stealth to determine their initiative as they are actively trying to avoid notice.

    • the bandits use Perception to determine their initiative as they are reacting to potentially spotting, hearing, or otherwise detecting the adventurers.

  • A gelatinous cube glides down a dungeon passage, unnoticed by the adventurers until the cube engulfs one of them. In this scenario:

    • the gelatinous cube uses Stealth to determine its initiative as it is actively trying to avoid notice.

    • the adventurers use Perception to determine their initiative as they are reacting to potentially spotting, hearing, or otherwise detecting the gelatinous cube.

  • A creature tries to steal a coin purse off of another creature. In this scenario:

    • the thief uses Sleight of hand to determine its initiative as it is actively trying to steal an object.

    • the other creature and any other participants use Perception to determine their initiative as they are reacting to the combat initiator trying to steal an object.

  • Tempers have flared between two bar patrons. One patron briefly turns its shoulder away from the other before quickly throwing a sucker punch. In this scenario:

    • the patron throwing the sucker punch uses Deception to determine its initiative as it is actively trying to hide its intention of initiating combat.

    • the other patron and any other participants use Insight to determine their initiative as they are reacting to the combat initiator hiding their intention to initiate combat.

    If the bar brawl escalates without a sucker punch, then:

    • all participants would use Nimbleness to determine their initiative as they are relying on their reaction speed to act quickly.

  • A group of adventurers is walking on a road and come upon a bridge. The bridge has a troll who is asking for a toll. The adventurers refuse to pay the troll and everyone reaches for their weapons. In this scenario:

    • all participants use Nimbleness to determine their initiative as they are relying on their reaction speed to act quickly.

  • While traversing a damp dungeon, a group of adventurers happen upon a door. The adventurers are aware of hobgoblins on the other side of the door, but the hobgoblins are unaware of the adventurers. One of the adventurers decides to burst through the door to take on the hobgoblins, another adventurer decides to immediately follow the first through the door, and the other adventurers try to avoid notice by the hobgoblins. In this scenario:

    • the adventurer bursting through the door uses Brawn to determine its initiative as it is actively choosing to initiate combat using Brawn which determines how effectively it can burst through the door.

    • the Adventurer following the other through the door uses Athletics as it is actively choosing to join combat with its athleticism by running or moving quickly.

    • the other adventurers use Stealth to determine their initiative as they are actively trying to avoid notice.

    • the hobgoblins use Perception to determine their initiative as they are relying on their ability to perceive the incoming threat in order to react.

    If the hobgoblins were aware of the adventurers, then:

    • the other adventurers would use Nimbleness instead of Stealth. Although the other adventurers were actively trying to avoid notice, the hobgoblins were aware of them so they then rely on their reaction speed.

    • the hobgoblins would use Nimbleness to determine their initiative as they are relying on their reaction speed to act quickly.

Your turn

On your turn, you can move a distance up to your speed and use one action. You decide when to move or use your actions. Your speed—sometimes called your walking speed—is noted on your character sheet.

Some class features such as Extra Action, conditions such as hasted, or other effects can increase or decrease the number actions you can use on a turn. There are some limits for what can be done with two actions. See the Actions in combat section.

The most common actions you can use are described in the Actions in Combat section. Many class features and other abilities provide additional options.

The Movement and Position section gives the rules for your move.

You can forgo moving, taking actions, or doing anything at all on your turn. If you can’t decide what to do on your turn, consider delaying your turn, using your actions to Dodge, or use the Ready action, as described in the Actions in Combat section.

Other activity on your turn

Interacting with objects around you

Here are a few examples of the sorts of thing you can do in tandem with your movement and actions:

  • draw or sheathe a sword or two light weapons
  • 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 2-meter pole

  • hand an item to another character

Your turn can include a variety of flourishes that do not require your actions nor your move.

You can communicate however you are able, through brief utterances and gestures, as you take your turn.

You can also interact with one object or feature of the environment for free, during either your move or one of your actions. For example, you could open a door during your move as you stride toward a foe, or you could draw your weapon as part of the same action you use to attack.

If you want to interact with a second object, you need to use an action. Some magic items and other special objects always require an action to use, as stated in their descriptions.

The GM might require you to use an action for any of these activities when it needs special care or when it presents an unusual obstacle. For instance, the GM could reasonably expect you to use an action to open a stuck door or turn a crank to lower a drawbridge.

When a creature tries to interact with an object in a space occupied by a hostile creature it chooses to make a Brawn or Nimbleness check contested by the hostile creature’s Brawn or Nimbleness check. If the creature attempting to interact with the object wins the contest, it can interact with the object.

Reactions

Certain special abilities, spells, and situations allow you to use a special action called a reaction. A reaction is an instant response to a trigger of some kind, which can occur on your turn or on someone else’s. The opportunity attack, described later in this section, is the most common type of reaction.

When you use a reaction, you can’t use another one until the start of your next turn. If the reaction interrupts another creature’s turn, that creature can continue its turn right after the reaction.

Movement and position

In combat, characters and creatures are in constant motion, often using movement and position to gain the upper hand.

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.

The Special Types of Movement section gives the particulars for jumping, climbing, and swimming.

Breaking up your move

You can break up your movement on your turn, using some of your speed before, between, and after your actions. For example, if you have a speed of 5 meters, you can move 2 meters, use an action, and then move 4 meters.

Moving between attacks

If you use an action that includes more than one weapon attack, you can break up your movement even further by moving between those attacks.

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 5 meters and a flying speed of 10 meters because a mage cast the levitate spell augmented to fly on you, you could fly 4 meters, then walk 2 meters, and then leap into the air to fly 5 meters more.

Difficult terrain

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.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 meter of movement in difficult terrain costs 1 extra meter. 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.

Being prone

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.

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 5 meters, you must spend 3 meters of movement to stand up. You can’t stand up if you don’t have enough movement left or if you are immobilized.

To move while prone, you must crawl or use magic such as teleportation. Every meter of movement while crawling costs 1 extra meter. Crawling 1 meter in difficult terrain, therefore, costs 2 meters of movement.

Movement 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.

If you leave a hostile creature’s reach during your move, you provoke an opportunity attack, as explained later in the section.

Flying movement

Flying creatures enjoy many benefits of mobility, but they must also deal with the danger of falling. If a flying creature is knocked prone, immobilized, 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 levitate spell.

Falling

When a flying creature falls, subtract the creature’s flying speed from the distance it falls before calculating falling damage as the creature is involuntarily able to flap its wings or use other means to slow its fall irregardless of its ability to move.

Creature size

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.

Size categories

SizeSpaceExample creatures
Tiny0.5 by 0.5 metersImp, Sprite
Small1 by 1 meterGiant rat, goblin
Medium1 by 1 meterHuman, orc, werewolf
Large2 by 2 metersHippogriff, Ogre
Huge3 by 3 metersFire giant, treant
Gargantuan4 by 4 meters or largerKraken, Purple Worm

Space

A creature’s space is the area in meters that it effectively controls in combat, not an expression of its physical dimensions. A typical Medium creature isn’t 1 meter wide, for example, but it does control a space that wide. If a Medium hobgoblin stands in a 1 meter wide doorway, other creatures can’t get through unless they tumble or 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 1 meter radius around another one.

Because larger creatures take up more space, fewer of them can surround a creature. If four 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 1 meter wide. While squeezing through a space, a creature must spend 1 extra meter for every meter it moves there, and it has disadvantage on attack rolls and Reflex saving throws. Attack rolls against the creature have advantage while it’s in the smaller space.

Actions in combat

When you use an action on your turn, you can use one of the actions presented here. Creatures have action options of their own in their stat blocks in addition to these actions.

When you describe an action not detailed elsewhere in the rules, the GM tells you whether that action is possible and what kind of roll you need to make, if any, to determine success or failure.

Some class features such as Extra Action, conditions such as hasted, or other effects can increase or decrease the number actions you can use on a turn. If you can take multiple actions on a turn, you cannot repeat an action to avoid a negative consequence (such as escaping restraints), repeat an ability check that you failed, to try to impose the same effect on a creature twice. For example you cannot try to persuade a creature if you already tried to persuade it this turn, you cannot try to climb over a gate if you already tried this turn, and you cannot use trip or vicious mockery against a creature if you already used it against the creature this turn.

Attack

The most common action to use in combat is the Attack action, whether you are swinging a sword, firing an arrow from a bow, or brawling with your fists.

With this action, you make one melee or ranged attack. See the Making an attack section for the rules that govern attacks.

Certain features, such as the Martial Arts feature of the psionicist monk, allow you to make more than one attack with this action.

Create or use a concoction

Concoctions are created by alchemical reactions which produce altering effects, deadly poisons and diseases, or great explosions. See the rules for concoctions, maneuvers, and spells section for the rules about concoctions.

Use a maneuver

Rather than standing still and trading blows, maneuvers allow each round to become a contest of strategy as each combatant delves into their repertoire of tricks to out-maneuver and ultimately defeat their opponent. See the rules for concoctions, maneuvers, and spells section for the rules about maneuvers.

Cast a spell

Spellcasters such as mages and acolytes, as well as many creatures, have access to spells and can use them to great effect in combat. Each spell has a casting time, which specifies whether the caster must use or or two actions, a reaction, minutes, or even hours to cast the spell. Most spells do have a casting time of two actions, so a spellcaster often uses their actions in combat to cast such a spell. See the rules for concoctions, maneuvers, and spells section for the rules about spellcasting.

Dash

When you use the Dash action, you gain extra movement for the current turn. The increase equals your speed, after applying any modifiers. With a speed of 5 meters, for example, you can move up to 10 meters on your turn if you dash.

Any increase or decrease to your speed changes this additional movement by the same amount. If your speed of 5 meters is reduced to 3 meters, for instance, you can move up to 5 meters this turn if you dash.

Delay

By choosing to delay, you delay your turn and then act normally on whatever initiative count you decide to act. When you delay, you voluntarily reduce your own initiative result for the rest of the combat. When your new, lower initiative count comes up later in the same round, you can act normally. You can specify this new initiative result or just wait until some time later in the round and act then, thus fixing your new initiative count at that point. You cannot delay if you have any conditions that are turn based.

Disengage

If you use the Disengage action, your movement doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks for the rest of the turn.

Dodge

When you use the Dodge action, you focus on avoiding attacks. Until the start of your next turn, the first attack roll made against you has disadvantage if you can see the attacker or you make the first Reflex saving throw with advantage.

You can use two actions to focus entirely on avoiding attacks. Until the start of your next turn, any attack roll made against you has disadvantage if you can see the attacker, and you make Reflex saving throws with advantage.

You lose either benefit if you are incapacitated or immobilized.

Drink a potion

As an action, you can drink a potion.

Equip or unequip a shield

As two actions, you can equip a shield. As an action, you can unequip a shield.

Use a feature

As an action, you can use a feature from your class.

Help

You can lend your aid to another creature in the completion of a task. When you use the Help action, the creature you aid gains advantage on the next ability check it makes to perform the task you are helping with, provided that it makes the check before the start of your next turn.

Alternatively, you can aid a friendly creature in attacking a creature within 1 meter of you. You feint, distract the target, or in some other way team up to make your ally’s attack more effective. If your ally attacks the target before your next turn, the first attack roll is made with advantage.

Improvise

You can improvise any action not on this list.

Ready

Sometimes you want to get the jump on a foe or wait for a particular circumstance before you act. Once on your turn, you can use the Ready action, which lets you act using your reaction before the start of your next turn.

First, you decide what perceivable circumstance will trigger your reaction. Then, you choose the action you will use in response to that trigger, or you choose to move up to your speed in response to it. Examples include “If the cultist steps on the trapdoor, I’ll pull the lever that opens it,” and “If the goblin steps next to me, I move away.”

When the trigger occurs, you can either use your reaction right after the trigger finishes or ignore the trigger. Remember that you can use only one reaction per round.

When you ready a spell, you cast it as normal but hold its energy, which you release with your reaction when the trigger occurs. To be readied, a spell must have a casting time of one action, and holding onto the spell’s magic requires concentration. If your concentration is broken, the spell dissipates without taking effect. For example, if you are concentrating on the web spell and ready magic missiles, your web spell ends, and if you take damage before you release magic missiles with your reaction, your concentration might be broken.

Take cover

While you are benefiting from cover, you can press yourself against a wall or duck behind an obstacle to take better advantage of cover. If you have half cover, you instead gain three-quarters cover. If you have three-quarters cover, you instead gain total cover. This lasts until you move from your current space, attack, throw a concoction, use a maneuver, cast a spell, become incapacitated, or end this effect on your turn (no action required).

Use a skill

You can try to calm an animal, avoid notice, search, shove, grapple, overrun, or many other options by using a skill.

Use an object

You normally interact with an object while doing something else, such as when you draw a sword as part of an attack. When an object requires your action for its use, you use the Use an Object action. This action is also useful when you want to interact with more than one object on your turn.

Making an attack

Whether you’re striking with a melee weapon, firing a weapon at range, or making an attack roll as part of a spell, an attack has a simple structure.

  1. Choose a target. Pick a target within your attack’s range: a creature, an object, or a location.

  2. Determine modifiers. The GM determines whether the target has cover and whether you have advantage or disadvantage against the target. In addition, spells, special abilities, and other effects can apply penalties or bonuses to your attack roll.

  3. Resolve the attack. You make the attack roll. On a hit, you roll damage, unless the particular attack has rules that specify otherwise. On a miss by 4 or less, the target takes half as much damage (including any additional damage such as “plus 9 (2d8) poison damage”), but no additional effects apply. Some attacks cause special effects in addition to or instead of damage.

If there’s ever any question whether something you’re doing counts as an attack, the rule is simple: if you’re making an attack roll, you’re making an attack.

Attack rolls

When you make an attack, your attack roll determines whether the attack hits or misses. To make an attack roll, roll 2d10 and add the appropriate modifiers. If the total of the roll plus modifiers equals or exceeds the target’s Defense, the attack hits. The Defense of a character is determined at character creation, whereas the Defense of a creature is in its stat block.

Modifiers to the roll

When a character makes an attack roll, the two most common modifiers to the roll are an ability and the character’s Aptitude Bonus. When a creature makes an attack roll, it uses whatever modifier is provided in its stat block.

The rules for determining how an attack is calculated are described in the Arcana, Divinity, Occult, Primal, Psionics, or Weapons skill.

Critical successes and failures

Sometimes fate blesses or curses a combatant, causing the novice to hit and the veteran to miss.

If the 2d10 roll for an attack is a 19 or 20, the attack hits regardless of any modifiers or the target’s Defense. This is called a critical hit, which is explained later in this section. If the result of an attack exceeds the target’s Defense by 10 it is also a critical hit.

If the 2d10 roll for an attack is a 2 or 3, the attack misses regardless of any modifiers or the target’s Defense.

Unseen attackers and targets

Combatants often try to escape their foes’ notice by hiding, casting the invisibility spell, or lurking in darkness. See the hidden and invisible conditions in the conditions section.

Ranged attacks

When you make a ranged attack, you fire a bow or a crossbow, hurl a hatchet, or otherwise send projectiles to strike a foe at a distance. A creature might shoot spines from its tail. Many spells also involve making a ranged attack.

Range

You can make ranged attacks only against targets within a specified range.

If a ranged attack, such as one made with a spell, has a single range, you can’t attack a target beyond this range.

Some ranged attacks, such as those made with a longbow or a shortbow, have two ranges. The smaller number is the normal range, and the larger number is the long range. Your attack roll has disadvantage when your target is beyond normal range, and you can’t attack a target beyond the long range.

Ranged attacks in close combat

Aiming a ranged attack is more difficult when a foe is next to you. When you make a ranged attack with a weapon, a spell, or some other means, you have disadvantage on the attack roll if you are within 1 meter of a hostile creature who can see you and who isn’t incapacitated.

Melee attacks

Used in hand-to-hand combat, a melee attack allows you to attack a foe within your reach. A melee attack typically uses a handheld weapon such as a sword, a warhammer, or an axe. A typical creature makes a melee attack when it strikes with its claws, horns, teeth, tentacles, or other body part. A few spells also involve making a melee attack.

Most creatures have a 1-meter reach and can thus attack targets within 1 meter of them when making a melee attack. Certain creatures (typically those larger than Medium) have melee attacks with a greater reach than 1 meter, as noted in their descriptions.

Instead of using a weapon to make a melee weapon attack, you can use an unarmed strike: a punch, kick, head-butt, or similar forceful blow. See Weapons to see how much damage an unarmed strike does.

Flanking

When a creature and at least one of its allies are adjacent or within their reach of an enemy and on opposite sides or corners of the enemy’s space, they flank that enemy, and it is flat-footed to them.

Opportunity attacks

In a fight, everyone is constantly watching for enemies to drop their guard. You can rarely move heedlessly past your foes without putting yourself in danger; doing so provokes an opportunity attack.

You can make an opportunity attack when a hostile creature that you can see moves out of your reach. To make the opportunity attack, you use your reaction to make one melee attack against the provoking creature. The attack occurs right before the creature leaves your reach.

You can avoid provoking an opportunity attack by taking the Disengage action. You also don’t provoke an opportunity attack when you teleport or when someone or something moves you without using your movement, action, or reaction. For example, you don’t provoke an opportunity attack if an explosion hurls you out of a foe’s reach or if gravity causes you to fall past an enemy.

Two-Weapon Fighting

Once on your turn when you use an action to make a weapon attack with a light weapon that you’re holding in one hand, you can attack with a different light weapon that you’re holding in the other hand. You don’t add your ability to the damage of the weapon that you’re holding in the other hand, unless that ability is negative.

Grappling

When you want to grab a creature or wrestle with it, you can use the Attack action to make a special melee attack, a grapple. The rules for initiating and escaping a grapple are in the skills section.

Moving a grappled creature. When you move, you can drag or carry the grappled creature with you, but your speed is halved, unless the creature is two or more sizes smaller than you.

Shoving a creature

The rules for shoving a creature are in the skills section.

Cover

Walls, trees, creatures, and other obstacles can provide cover during combat, making a target more difficult to harm. A target can benefit from cover only when an attack or other effect originates on the opposite side of the cover.

There are three degrees of cover. If a target is behind multiple sources of cover, only the most protective degree of cover applies; the degrees aren’t added together. For example, if a target is behind a creature that gives half cover and a tree trunk that gives three-quarters cover, the target has three-quarters cover.

Half cover

A target has half cover if an obstacle blocks at least half of its body. Half cover provides a +2 bonus to Defense, Reflex saving throws, and Stealth checks to avoid being seen or to conceal an object. An obstacle might be:

  • a low wall

  • a large piece of furniture

  • a narrow tree trunk

  • a creature that is at least the size of the target and is positioned directly between the target and the attacker, whether that creature is an enemy or a friend

Half cover is not sufficient cover to allow a creature to hide, but it may help them avoid notice or conceal an object.

Three-quarters cover

A target has three-quarters cover if about three-quarters of it is covered by an obstacle. Three-quarters cover provides a +4 bonus to Defense, Reflex saving throws, and Stealth checks to avoid being seen or to conceal an object. An obstacle might be:

  • a portcullis

  • an arrow slit

  • a thick tree trunk

  • a creature that is at least two sizes larger than the target and is positioned directly between the target and the attacker, whether that creature is an enemy or a friend

Three-quarters cover is sufficient cover to allow a creature to hide.

Total cover

A target has total cover if it is completely concealed by an obstacle. A target with total cover can’t be targeted directly by an attack or a spell and can’t be seen, although some spells can reach such a target by including it in an area of effect.

Total cover is sufficient cover to allow a creature to hide.

Damage and healing

Injury and the risk of death are constant companions of those who explore the worlds of D&D. The thrust of a sword, a well-placed arrow, or a blast of flame from a fireball spell all have the potential to damage, or even kill, the hardiest of creatures.

Health

Health represent a combination of physical and mental durability, the will to live, and luck. Creatures with more health are more difficult to kill. Those with fewer health are more fragile.

A creature’s health can be any number from the creature’s maximum health down to 0. This number changes frequently as a creature takes damage or receives healing.

Whenever a creature takes damage, that damage is subtracted from its health. The loss of health has no effect on a creature’s capabilities until the creature drops to 0 health.

Damage rolls

Each weapon, spell, and harmful creature ability specifies the damage it deals. You roll the damage die or dice, add any modifiers, and apply the damage to your target. Magic weapons, special abilities, and other factors can grant a bonus to damage.

When attacking with a weapon, you add your ability—the same ability used for the attack roll—to the damage. A spell tells you which dice to roll for damage and whether to add any modifiers.

If a spell or other effect deals damage to more than one target at the same time, roll the damage once for all of them. For example, when a mage casts fireball, the spell’s damage is rolled once for all creatures caught in the blast.

Critical hits

When you score a critical hit, you get to roll extra dice for the attack’s damage against the target. Roll all of the attack’s damage dice twice and add them together. Then add any relevant modifiers as normal. To speed up play, you can roll all the damage dice at once.

For example, if you score a critical hit with a dagger, roll 2d4 for the damage, rather than 1d4, and then add your relevant ability. If the attack involves other damage dice, such as from the rogue’s Cheap Shot feature, you roll those dice twice as well.

Damage types

Describing the effects of damage

Game Masters describe health loss in different ways. When your health is half or more of your maximum health, you typically show no signs of injury. When you drop below half your maximum health, you show signs of wear, such as cuts and bruises. An attack that reduces you to 0 health strikes you directly, leaving a bleeding injury or other trauma, or it simply knocks you unconscious.

Different attacks, damaging spells, and other harmful effects deal different types of damage. Damage types have no rules of their own, but other rules, such as damage resistance, rely on the types.

The damage types follow, with examples to help a GM assign a damage type to a new effect.

Acid. The corrosive spray of a black dragon’s breath and the dissolving enzymes secreted by a black pudding deal acid damage.

Bludgeoning. Blunt force attacks—hammers, falling, constriction, and the like—deal bludgeoning damage.

Cold. The infernal chill radiating from an gelugon’s spear and the frigid blast of a white dragon’s breath deal cold damage.

Concussion. A concussive burst, such as the effect of the thunderwave spell, deals concussion damage.

Fire. Red dragons breathe fire, and many spells conjure flames to deal fire damage.

Force. Force is pure magical energy focused into a damaging form. Most effects that deal force damage are spells.

Lightning. A lightning bolt spell and a blue dragon’s breath deal lightning damage.

Necrotic. Necrotic damage, dealt by certain undead and some spells, withers matter and even the soul.

Piercing. Puncturing and impaling attacks, including spears and creatures’ bites, deal piercing damage.

Poison. Venomous stings and the toxic gas of a green dragon’s breath deal poison damage.

Psychic. Mental abilities such as a mind flayer’s psionic blast deal psychic damage.

Radiant. Power sunbeams, rays of dazzling light, or an angel’s gleaming weapon deal radiant damage by searing flesh like fire.

Slashing. Swords, axes, and creatures’ claws deal slashing damage.

Damage resistance and vulnerability

Some creatures and objects are exceedingly difficult or unusually easy to hurt with certain types of damage.

If a creature or an object has resistance to a damage type, damage of that type is halved against it. If a creature or an object has vulnerability to a damage type, damage of that type is doubled against it.

Resistance and then vulnerability are applied after all other modifiers to damage. For example, a creature has resistance to bludgeoning damage and is hit by an attack that deals 25 bludgeoning damage. The creature is also within a magical aura that reduces all damage by 5. The 25 damage is first reduced by 5 and then halved, so the creature takes 10 damage.

Multiple instances of resistance or vulnerability that affect the same damage type count as only one instance. For example, if a creature has resistance to fire damage as well as resistance to all nonmagical damage, the damage of a nonmagical fire is reduced by half against the creature, not reduced by three-quarters.

Healing

Unless it results in death, damage isn’t permanent. Even death is reversible through powerful magic. Rest can restore a creature’s health (as explained in the Adventuring section), and magical methods such as a heal spell or a potion of healing can remove damage in an instant.

When a creature receives healing of any kind, health regained is added to its health. A creature’s health can’t exceed its maximum health, so any health regained in excess of this number are lost. For example, a naturalist grants a warrior 8 health of healing. If the warrior has 14 health and has a maximum health of 20, the warrior regains 6 health from the naturalist, not 8.

A creature that has died can’t regain health until magic such as the revivify spell has restored it to life.

Dropping to 0 health

When you drop to 0 health, you either die outright or start dying, as explained in the following sections.

Instant death

Massive damage can kill you instantly. When damage reduces you to 0 healths and there is damage remaining, you die if the remaining damage equals or exceeds your maximum health.

For example, a character with a maximum of 12 health currently has 6 health. If they take 18 damage from an attack, they are reduced to 0 health, but 12 damage remains. Because the remaining damage equals their maximum health, the character dies.

Dying

If damage reduces you to 0 health and fails to kill you, you gain the dying 1 condition.

Creatures and death

Most GMs have a creature die the instant it drops to 0 health, rather than having it fall unconscious and make death saving throws.

Mighty villains and special nonplayer characters are common exceptions; the GM might have them fall unconscious and follow the same rules as player characters.

Knocking a creature out

Sometimes an attacker wants to incapacitate a foe, rather than deal a killing blow. When an attacker reduces a creature to 0 health with a melee attack, the attacker can knock the creature out. The attacker can make this choice the instant the damage is dealt. The creature falls unconscious and is stable.

Temporary health

Some spells and special abilities confer temporary health to a creature. Temporary health isn’t actual health; it is a buffer against damage, a pool of health that protect you from injury.

When you have temporary health and take damage, the temporary health is lost first, and any leftover damage carries over to your normal health. For example, if you have 5 temporary health and take 7 damage, you lose the temporary health and then take 2 damage.

Because temporary health is separate from your actual health, it can exceed your maximum health. A character can, therefore, be at full health and receive temporary health.

Healing can’t restore temporary health, and it can’t be added together. If you have temporary health and receive more, you decide whether to keep the temporary health you have or to gain the new temporary health. For example, if a spell grants you 12 temporary health when you already have 10, you can have 12 or 10, not 22.

If you have 0 health, receiving temporary health doesn’t restore you to consciousness or stabilize you. It can still absorb damage directed at you while you’re in that state, but only true healing can save you.

Unless a feature that grants you temporary health has a duration, it lasts until it is depleted or you finish a long rest.

Mounted combat

A knight charging into battle on a warhorse, a mage casting spells from the back of a griffon, or an acolyte soaring through the sky on a pegasus all enjoy the benefits of speed and mobility that a mount can provide.

A willing creature that is at least one size larger than you and that has an appropriate anatomy can serve as a mount, using the following rules.

Mounting and dismounting

Once during your move, you can mount a creature that is within 1 meter of you or dismount. Doing so costs an amount of movement equal to half your speed. For example, if your speed is 5 meters, you must spend 3 meters of movement to mount a horse. Therefore, you can’t mount it if you don’t have 3 meters of movement left or if you are immobilized.

If an effect moves your mount against its will while you’re on it, you must succeed on a Difficulty 10 Reflex saving throw or fall off the mount, landing prone in a space within 1 meter of it. If you’re knocked prone while mounted, you must make the same saving throw.

If your mount is knocked prone, you can use your reaction to dismount it as it falls and land on your feet. Otherwise, you are dismounted and fall prone in a space within 1 meter of it.

Controlling a mount

While you’re mounted, you have two options. You can either control the mount or allow it to act independently. Intelligent creatures, such as dragons, act independently.

You can control a mount only if it has been trained to accept a rider. Domesticated horses, donkeys, and similar creatures are assumed to have such training. The initiative of a controlled mount changes to match yours when you mount it. It moves as you direct it, and uses actions as normal. A controlled mount can move and act even on the turn that you mount it.

An independent mount retains its place in the initiative order. It moves and acts as it wishes. It might flee from combat, rush to attack and devour a badly injured foe, or otherwise act against your wishes.

In either case, if the mount provokes an opportunity attack while you’re on it, the attacker can target you or the mount.

Underwater combat

When adventurers pursue sahuagin back to their undersea homes, fight off sharks in an ancient shipwreck, or fnd themselves in a flooded dungeon room, they must fight in a challenging environment. Underwater the following rules apply.

Melee attacks underwater

When making a melee weapon attack, a creature that doesn’t have a swimming speed (either natural or granted by magic) has disadvantage on the attack roll unless the weapon is a dagger, shortsword, spear, trident, or a similar weapon of your GM’s choice.

Ranged attacks underwater

A ranged weapon attack has its range reduced to 1/4 the weapon’s normal range. A thrown weapon has its range reduced by half. Even against a target within normal range, the attack roll has disadvantage unless the weapon is a crossbow, a net, or a weapon that is thrown such as a spear, trident, or dart.

Attacks from land

Characters swimming, floating, or treading water on the surface, or wading in water at least chest deep, have three-quarters cover (+4 bonus to Defense and Reflex saving throws) from opponents on land. A completely submerged creature has total cover against opponents on land.

Fire

Nonmagical fire (including alchemist’s fire) does not burn underwater. Spells or spell-like effects with the fire descriptor create a bubble of steam instead of its usual fiery effect, and creatures and objects that are fully immersed in water have resistance to fire damage.

Spellcasting underwater

Some spells that require you to speak may not function underwater, subject to GM discretion.

Weather

Strong wind

A strong wind (at least 30 kilometers per hour) imposes disadvantage on ranged weapon attack rolls and Perception checks that rely on hearing. A strong wind also extinguishes open flames, disperses fog, and makes flying by nonmagical means nearly impossible. A flying creature in a strong wind must land at the end of its turn or fall.

A strong wind in a desert can create a sandstorm that imposes disadvantage on Perception checks that rely on sight.

Heavy precipitation

Everything within an area of heavy rain or heavy snowfall is lightly obscured, and creatures in the area have disadvantage on Perception checks that rely on sight. Heavy rain also extinguishes open flames and imposes disadvantage on Perception checks that rely on hearing.