Your movement and position determine how you can interact with the world. Moving around in exploration and downtime modes is relatively fluid and free form. Movement in encounter mode, by contrast, is governed by rules explained in Movement in Encounters (page 473). The rules below apply regardless of which mode you’re playing in.
Creatures in Pathfinder soar through the clouds, scale sheer cliffs, and tunnel underfoot. Most creatures have a Speed, which is how fast they can move across the ground. Some abilities give you different ways to move, such as through the air or underground.
Each of these special movement types has its own Speed value. Many creatures have these Speeds naturally. The various types of movement are listed below. Since the Stride action can be used only with your normal Speed, moving using one of these movement types requires using a special action, and you can’t Step while using one of these movement types. Since Speed by itself refers to your land Speed, rules text concerning these special movement types specifies the movement types to which it applies. Even though Speeds aren’t checks, they can have item, circumstance, and status bonuses and penalties. These can’t reduce your Speeds below 5 feet unless stated otherwise.
Switching from one movement type to another requires ending your action that has the first movement type and using a new action that has the second movement type. For instance, if you Climbed 10 feet to the top of a cliff, you could then Stride forward 10 feet.
Most characters and monsters have a speed statistic—also called land Speed—which indicates how quickly they can move across the ground. When you use the Stride action, you move a number of feet equal to your Speed. Numerous other abilities also allow you to move, from Crawling to Leaping, and most of them are based on your Speed in some way. Whenever a rule mentions your Speed without specifying a type, it’s referring to your land Speed.
A burrow Speed lets you tunnel through the ground. You can use the Burrow action (page 472) if you have a burrow Speed. Burrowing doesn’t normally leave behind a tunnel unless the ability specifically states that it does. Most creatures need to hold their breath when burrowing, and they may need tremorsense (page 465) to navigate with any accuracy.
A climb Speed allows you to move up or down inclines and vertical surfaces. Instead of needing to attempt Athletics checks to Climb, you automatically succeed and move up to your climb Speed instead of the listed distance.
You might still have to attempt Athletics checks to Climb in hazardous conditions, to Climb extremely difficult surfaces, or to cross horizontal planes such as ceilings. You can also choose to roll an Athletics check to Climb rather than accept an automatic success in hopes of getting a critical success. Your climb Speed grants you a +4 circumstance bonus to Athletics checks to Climb.
If you have a climb Speed, you’re not flat-footed while climbing.
As long as you have a fly Speed, you can use the Fly and Arrest a Fall actions (page 472). You can also attempt to Maneuver in Flight if you’re trained in the Acrobatics skill.
Wind conditions can affect how you use the Fly action. In general, moving against the wind uses the same rules as moving through difficult terrain (or greater difficult terrain, if you’re also flying upward), and moving with the wind allows you to move 10 feet for every 5 feet of movement you spend (not cumulative with moving straight downward). For more information on spending movement, see Movement in Encounters on page 473.
Upward and downward movement are both relative to the gravity in your area; if you’re in a place with zero gravity, moving up or down is no different from moving horizontally.
With a swim Speed, you can propel yourself through the water with little impediment. Instead of attempting Athletics checks to Swim, you automatically succeed and move up to your swim Speed instead of the listed distance. Moving up or down is still moving through difficult terrain.
You might still have to attempt checks to Swim in hazardous conditions or to cross turbulent water. You can also choose to roll an Athletics check to Swim rather than accept an automatic success in hopes of getting a critical success. Your swim Speed grants you a +4 circumstance bonus to Athletics checks to Swim.
Having a swim Speed doesn’t necessarily mean you can breathe in water, so you might still have to hold your breath if you’re underwater to avoid drowning (page 478).
When you fall more than 5 feet, you take bludgeoning damage equal to half the distance you fell when you land. Treat falls longer than 1,500 feet as though they were 1,500 feet (750 damage). If you take any damage from a fall, you land prone. You fall about 500 feet in the first round of falling and about 1,500 feet each round thereafter.
You can Grab an Edge as a reaction to reduce the damage from some falls. In addition, if you fall into water, snow, or another relatively soft substance, you can treat the fall as though it were 20 feet shorter, or 30 feet shorter if you intentionally dove in. The effective reduction can’t be greater than the depth (so when falling into 10-foot-deep water, you treat the fall as 10 feet shorter).
Falling on a Creature
If you land on a creature, that creature must attempt a DC 15 Reflex save. Landing exactly on a creature after a long fall is almost impossible.
Critical Success The creature takes no damage.
Success The creature takes bludgeoning damage equal to one-quarter the falling damage you took.
Failure The creature takes bludgeoning damage equal to half the falling damage you took.
Critical Failure The creature takes the same amount of bludgeoning damage you took from the fall.
A dropped object takes damage just like a falling creature. If the object lands on a creature, that creature can attempt a Reflex save using the same rules as for a creature falling on a creature. Hazards and spells that involve falling objects, such as a rock slide, have their own rules about how they interact with creatures and the damage they deal.