House Rules: Combat - Simple Actions

The following are some of the more common actions. To take any of them, you need to commit only 1 action (though some can be taken as free actions under special circumstances).

Aid Another

In melee combat, you can help a friend attack or defend by distracting or interfering with an opponent. If you’re in position to make a melee attack on an opponent that is engaging a friend in melee combat, you can attempt to aid your friend with 1 action. You make an attack roll against AC 10. If you succeed, your friend gains either a +1 bonus on his next attack roll against that opponent or a +1 bonus to AC against that opponent’s next attack (your choice), as long as that attack comes before the beginning of your next turn. For every 10 that you beat the AC, the bonus you provide increases by 1. Multiple characters can aid the same friend, and similar bonuses stack.

You can also use this simple action to help a friend in other ways, such as when he is affected by a spell, or to assist another character’s skill check.

Attack, Melee

With a normal melee weapon, you can strike any opponent within 5 feet. (Opponents within 5 feet are considered adjacent to you.) Some melee weapons have reach, as indicated in their descriptions. With a typical reach weapon, you can strike opponents 10 feet away, but you can’t strike adjacent foes (those within 5 feet).

You can alter your attack in several ways. See Special Attacks below to see how.

Attack, Natural

Attacks made with natural weapons, such as claws and bites, are melee attacks that can be made against any creature within your reach (usually 5 feet). These attacks are made using your full attack bonus and deal an amount of damage that depends on their type (plus your Strength modifier, as normal).

You can make attacks with natural weapons in combination with attacks made with a melee weapon and unarmed strikes, so long as a different limb is used for each attack. For example, you cannot make a claw attack and also use that hand to make attacks with a longsword.

You can use the Two-Weapon Fighting feat and the Flurry of Blows ability with two different natural weapons (such as a bite and a tail), a pair of natural weapons (such as 2 claws), or a combination of a natural weapon and a valid melee weapon or unarmed strike. Natural weapons count as light weapons.

Attack, Ranged

With a ranged weapon, you can shoot or throw at any target that is within the weapon’s maximum range and in line of sight. The maximum range for a thrown weapon is five range increments. For projectile weapons, it is 10 range increments. Some ranged weapons have shorter maximum ranges, as specified in their descriptions.

You can alter your attack in several ways. See Special Attacks below to see how.

Shooting or Throwing into a Melee: If you shoot or throw a ranged weapon at a target engaged in melee with your ally, you take a –4 penalty on your attack roll. Two characters are engaged in melee if they are enemies of each other and either threatens the other. (An unconscious or otherwise immobilized character is not considered engaged unless he is actually being attacked.)

If your target (or the part of your target you’re aiming at, if it’s a big target) is at least 10 feet away from the nearest ally, you can avoid the –4 penalty, even if the creature you’re aiming at is engaged in melee with an ally.

If your target is two size categories larger than your allies it is engaged with, this penalty is reduced to –2. There is no penalty for firing at a creature that is three size categories larger than your allies it is engaged with.

If you have the Precise Shot feat, you don’t take this penalty.

Stray Shot
When a range attacker misses his intended target, his projectile continues its trajectory, and may hit another creature beyond his original target. To determine which creatures may be hit by the stray shot, draw a line from the middle of the attacker's square to the middle of the intended target's square, and continue that line until it hits an obstacle. Creatures in any square that the line passes through after passing through the intended target's square may be hit by the stray shot.

Stray shots are resolved in the order of the closest creature to the intended target first, followed by the next closest, and so on until the shot hits a creature or reaches its range limit. Stray shots are resolved using the attacker's original attack roll against the potential target's Defense. A potential target gains a +4 cover bonus to Defense because of soft cover from the original target.

Stray shots fired from projectile weapons except for firearms, and thrown weapons except for splash weapons, continue their trajectory until the end of their current range increment. The projectile then falls to the ground after this distance if it does not strike any creature. Stray shots from firearms continue their trajectory for its current range increment, and four additional range increments after or up to the firearm's maximum range (five for early firearms, ten for advanced firearms), whichever reaches first.

Attack, Unarmed (Provoke)

Unarmed strikes involve attacks using non-lethal parts of your body, such as your fists, feet, head, elbows, and so on. Any part of your body counts as an unarmed strike, so you can make such attacks even if your both of your hands are holding objects, or even bound. You need to be rendered helpless to prevent you from using unarmed strikes. Unarmed strikes count as light weapons.

You can alter your attack in several ways. See Special Attacks below to see how.

Attacking with unarmed strikes is much like attacking with a melee weapon, except for the following:

Attacks of Opportunity: Attacking unarmed provokes an attack of opportunity from the character you attack, provided she is armed. The attack of opportunity comes before your attack. An unarmed attack does not provoke attacks of opportunity from other foes, nor does it provoke an attack of opportunity from an unarmed foe.

An unarmed character can’t take attacks of opportunity (but see “Armed” Unarmed Attacks, below).

“Armed” Unarmed Attacks: Sometimes a character’s or creature’s unarmed attack counts as an armed attack. A monk, a character with the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, a spellcaster delivering a touch attack spell, and a creature with natural physical weapons all count as being armed (see Natural Attack).

Note that being armed counts for both offense and defense (the character can make attacks of opportunity).

Unarmed Strike Damage: An unarmed strike from a Medium character deals 1d3 points of bludgeoning damage (plus your Strength modifier, as normal). A Small character’s unarmed strike deals 1d2 points of bludgeoning damage, while a Large character’s unarmed strike deals 1d4 points of bludgeoning damage. All damage from unarmed strikes is nonlethal damage. You can increased your unarmed strike damage by taking the Greater Unarmed Strike feat.

Dealing Lethal Damage: You can specify that your unarmed strike will deal lethal damage before you make your attack roll, but you take a –4 penalty on your attack roll. If you have the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, you can deal lethal damage with an unarmed strike without taking a penalty on the attack roll.

Cast a Swift Spell (Provoke)

You cast a single spell or use a single spell-like ability with a casting time of 1 swift action.

Combat Maneuver: Bull Rush (Provoke)

You push a foe that is at most one size category larger than you straight back. Attempt a bull rush combat maneuver check. If you’re successful, you push the foe back 5 feet. For every 5 by which your check exceeds your foe’s CMD, you push that foe back 5 additional feet. You can choose to move along with the target if you have the necessary acts to do so. The foe’s movement doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity unless you have the Greater Bull Rush Feat.

If you have the Powerful Maneuvers feats, you no longer provoke attack of opportunities when you attempt to bull rush.

Combat Maneuver: Disarm (Provoke)

You attempt to disarm your foe. If your disarm combat maneuver check is successful, your foe drops one item of your choice that it’s carrying or wielding (even if it’s holding the item with two hands). If you exceed your foe’s CMD by 10 or more, the foe drops two items of your choice. If you fail your combat maneuver by 10 or more, you drop any weapon you were using to disarm your foe.

If you have the Deft Maneuvers feats, you no longer provoke attack of opportunities when you attempt to disarm.

Combat Maneuver: Overrun (Provoke)

You move up to your speed, and over the course of this action you attempt to move through the space of a foe that is no more than one size category larger than you. When attempting to move through your foe’s space, your foe can choose to allow you to pass through and let you continue your movement. If the foe doesn’t choose to or can’t let you move past, you attempt an overrun combat maneuver check. If you succeed, you move through the target’s space. If your check exceeds your foe’s CMD by 5 or more, you move through the target’s space and the target is knocked prone. If the target has more than two legs, it gains a bonus to its CMD against overrun combat maneuvers equal to +2 for each additional leg it possesses. If you fail this check, your movement stops in the space directly in front of the opponent.

If you have the Powerful Maneuvers feats, you no longer provoke attack of opportunities when you attempt to overrun.

Combat Maneuver: Sunder (Provoke)

You try to sunder an item held or worn by your foe. Attempt a sunder combat maneuver check. If you succeed, you deal damage to the item normally. Damage that exceeds the item’s hardness is subtracted from its hit points. If an object has less than or equal to half its total hit points remaining, it gains the broken condition. If the damage you deal reduces the object to 0 or fewer hit points, you can choose to destroy the object. If you choose not to destroy it, the object is left with only 1 hit point.

If you have the Powerful Maneuvers feats, you no longer provoke attack of opportunities when you attempt to sunder.

Combat Maneuver: Trip (Provoke)

You try to trip your opponent. Attempt a trip combat maneuver check against a foe that is no more than one size category larger than you. If you succeed, you knock the target prone. If you fail by 10 or more, you are knocked prone instead. If the target has more than two legs, it gains a +2 bonus to its CMD against this attempt for each additional leg it possesses.

If you have the Deft Maneuvers feats, you no longer provoke attack of opportunities when you attempt to trip.

Control a Frightened Mount

You attempt to control a mount that’s not trained for combat in battle. If you fail the Ride check, you can’t try again until your next turn.

Crawl (Provoke)

You crawl 5 feet while prone.


Using the Intimidate skill, you shout threats at a foe within 30 feet that can see and hear you, attempting to demoralize it.

Direct or Redirect a Spell

If a spell allows you to redirect an effect to a new target, you take this action to do so.

Dismiss a Spell

You dismiss the effects of a dismissible spell.

Draw or Sheathe a Weapon (Provoke)

You draw a weapon so that you can use it in combat, or put it away so that you have a free hand. This action also applies to weapon-like objects carried in easy reach, such as wands. If your weapon or weapon-like object is stored in a pack or otherwise out of easy reach, treat this action as retrieving a stored item.

If you have a base attack bonus of +1 or higher, you may draw a weapon as a free action combined with the Move simple action. If you have the Two-Weapon Fighting feat, you can draw two light or one-handed weapons in the time it would normally take you to draw one. If you have the Quick Draw, you can draw a weapons as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity.

Drawing ammunition for use with a ranged weapon (such as arrows, bolts, sling bullets, or shuriken) is a free action, and does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Escape a Grapple

You attempt to escape or gain control of a grapple by attempting either an Escape Artist check or a combat maneuver check. The second time in a turn you take this action, you take a –5 penalty on the check. The third time, you take a –10 penalty on the check.

Handle an Animal

You command an animal to perform a trick it knows by attempting a Handle Animal check. Some class abilities let characters attempt this as a free action.

Initiate Boost

You initiate a readied boost maneuver.

Initiate or Change Stance

You initiate or change your stance.

Load a Hand Crossbow or Light Crossbow

You load a hand crossbow or a light crossbow with a bolt. If you have the Rapid Reload feat with the weapon you are reloading, this is a free action.

Lower or Reactivate Spell Resistance

You lower any spell resistance that is active, or reactivate a spell resistance that has been lowered.

Manipulate an Item (Provoke)

You retrieve or store an item in a container on your person; pick up an item; or move a heavy object. Sometimes, the GM might rule that manipulating an item is a complex action and determine the number of actions that must be committed to succeed. Based on what you want to do, those actions may need to be committed consecutively.

Move (Provoke)

You move up to your speed. Typically you move across the land at either a walk or a sprint, but this covers other movement modes, including burrowing, flying, jumping, and swimming.

Mount or Dismount a Steed (Provoke)

You mount or dismount a steed. You can do this as a free action by attempting a DC 20 Ride check; failure means you provoke attacks of opportunity.

Ready a Simple Action or an Complex Action

You ready a single simple or complex action that you can take before the start of your next turn as a reaction. You must designate a definite trigger for that reaction (such as “if a foe attacks me,” “if a foe casts a spell,” or “if a foe moves adjacent to me”), and you must have enough acts left to complete the action you ready. Once you ready an action, your turn ends. If you don’t take the action you readied as a reaction by the start of your next turn, you lose that reaction.

Ready or Drop a Shield (Provoke)

You either strap a shield to your arm to gain its shield bonus to AC or unstrap and drop the shield. If you have a base attack bonus of +1 or higher, you can do either of these as a free action when you take the Move simple action.

Recall Knowledge

You attempt a Knowledge or Lore check to recall a detail in one of your fields of study, or to identify a monster and its abilities.


You use Perception to search a room for salient hidden creatures or clues, or you make a detailed search of a 10-foot-square area to detect traps, triggers, hidden objects, or footprints. When you search an area, this action has the complex subtype.

Spell Combat (Provoke)

You make an attack roll with a light or one-handed melee weapon, then cast a spell on the magus spell list with a casting time of 1 standard action. You take a –2 penalty on the melee attack, but the spell is cast regardless of whether the attack hits. If you cast the spell defensively, you can subtract your Intelligence bonus from the result of the attack roll to add the same value as a circumstance bonus on the concentration check. You must have the spell combat class feature to take this action, and can take this action only once per turn. To take this action, you must have one hand free. You can’t also take the following actions this turn: cast a standard-action spell or cast a 1-round-action spell.

Stand Up (Provoke)

You stand up from being prone.


You move 5 feet that provokes an attack of opportunity. You can only take a Step if your movement isn’t hampered by difficult terrain or darkness. Any creature with a speed of 5 feet or less can’t take a Step, since moving even 5 feet requires a Move simple action for such a slow creature.

You may not take a Step using a form of movement for which you do not have a listed speed.

Two-Weapon Fighting

When fighting with a weapon in your offhand or with a double weapon, you can make two attacks with a penalty to each attack roll. See Table: Two-Weapon Fighting Penalties to see what penalty to apply. You can normally use this action only once per turn unless you you have the Two-Weapon Fighting feat and meet certain requirements.

Table: Two-Weapon Fighting Penalties

Circumstances Primary Hand Off Hand
Normal penalties –6 –10
Off-hand weapon is light –4 –8
Two-Weapon Fighting feat –4 –4
Off-hand weapon is light and Two-Weapon Fighting feat –2 –2

Use a Swift Ability

You use a single ability that can be used as a swift action.

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