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Can you 5-foot down stairs?


Rules Questions


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Situation:: At the top of a flight of stairs. Took a Full-attack action. Can I 5-foot down the stairs?


harmor wrote:
Situation:: At the top of a flight of stairs. Took a Full-attack action. Can I 5-foot down the stairs?

Stairs count as difficult terrain, so no 5 ft step.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Type2Demon wrote:
harmor wrote:
Situation:: At the top of a flight of stairs. Took a Full-attack action. Can I 5-foot down the stairs?
Stairs count as difficult terrain, so no 5 ft step.

"A character can move up or down stairs as part of their movement without penalty, but they cannot run on them. Increase the DC of any Acrobatics skill check made on stairs by 4. Some stairs are particularly steep and are treated as difficult terrain." Pathfinder Core Rulebook pg415

So you can 5-foot step as long as the steps are not too steep. This is up to the GM to decide what is steep and is not. I'd consider anything >45 degrees to be steep, therefore if the stairs go up five feet for every five feet forward then yes, it's difficult terrain and so you cannot take a 5-foot step. Otherwise you were right, and the step is legal.

As a sidenote I don't count descending stairs to be difficult terrain. Falling may be a problem though...

Happy Gaming!

Andoran

IRL, stairs are designed to be the exact opposite of difficult terrain...
-Kle.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

GM call. If they are too steep, you are in difficult terrain. Also, if they are too narrow, you must squeeze. Keep in mind that too narrow by game standards is ~3ft, which is standard in many homes.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Klebert L. Hall wrote:

IRL, stairs are designed to be the exact opposite of difficult terrain...

-Kle.

Tell that to someone with asthma, bad knees, or a severe weight problem. I've seen plenty of people who treat stairs as difficult terrain. ;)

Honestly though, I'd disagree on another level too: stairs IRL are designed so that you don't need to make climb checks to change elevation. A steep slope or vertical wall isn't simply just difficult terrain. Therefore I'd say that stairs are designed to essentially decrease the difficulty of such an obstacle to the point where it can even be considered terrain.


Valcrist wrote:


"A character can move up or down stairs as part of their movement without penalty, but they cannot run on them. Increase the DC of any Acrobatics skill check made on stairs by 4. Some stairs are particularly steep and are treated as difficult terrain." Pathfinder Core Rulebook pg415

That is good to know. Makes sense about the Acrobatics check, but I never thought of stairs as difficult terrain. I would probably use this to spice up an encounter. For example, chasing the goblin thieves up the stairs of an inn wouldn't be difficult terrain, but once the party tracks them to their underground lair a couple levels later, it'll be an added challenge to fight on janky, little stairs.

Andoran

Hmm, after reading this I now want to run combat on MC Escher's Stairs....

Cheliax

Klebert L. Hall wrote:

IRL, stairs are designed to be the exact opposite of difficult terrain...

-Kle.

I would like to see people take a 5' step back down some stairs while someone with a melee weapon is trying to kill them. Narrow or steep stairs would get a lot harder to step down.

Qadira

Madclaw wrote:
Hmm, after reading this I now want to run combat on MC Escher's Stairs....

Do you mean Ascending and Descending? Or House of Stairs? Or Relativity? That man did like his crazy staircases...

Andoran

CrackedOzy wrote:
Madclaw wrote:
Hmm, after reading this I now want to run combat on MC Escher's Stairs....
Do you mean Ascending and Descending? Or House of Stairs? Or Relativity? That man did like his crazy staircases...

Sorry, I forgot to clarify. Relativity.

Taldor

Most stairs you encounter in everyday life are not difficult terrain, however if you've ever ascended a Mayan pyramid (Chichen Itza and Tulum, Mexico) you will have seen stair that are difficult terrain! The stairs rise at 45 degrees, but the individual steps are actually steeper at 73 degrees!

So if you're delving some ancient ruin there very well could be some stairs you can't use a 5' step on. Swashbuckling in the evil duke's castle, pretty much normal movement.

--Vrock of Ages

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Stairs are generally difficult terrain in my campaigns. Then I choose on a case-by-case basis whether they shouldn't be. That might apply to the manor steps in front of a noble's home, for example. Or maybe a grand staircase inside a large manorhouse or palace.

But most stairs are generally built to: take a few resources as possible to build (so are pretty steep), be easily defendable (so are narrow, and cause a right-handed attacker to be at a disadvantage on spiral staircases by having their sword arm against towards the center), and so on.

It's nice to know there's actually a rule that says it's GM's call though. I prefer to play it by the book when possible. ;-)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
harmor wrote:
Situation:: At the top of a flight of stairs. Took a Full-attack action. Can I 5-foot down the stairs?

you can 5' foot down stairs if the the ceiling is only 3-4'. other than that the stairs would be longer than a 5' decent....

Andoran

Happler wrote:
Klebert L. Hall wrote:

IRL, stairs are designed to be the exact opposite of difficult terrain...

-Kle.
I would like to see people take a 5' step back down some stairs while someone with a melee weapon is trying to kill them. Narrow or steep stairs would get a lot harder to step down.

PCs are basically superheroes; they do all sorts of ridiculous stuff that can't be done in our physical realm. Taking a 5-foot step on stairs seems so mundane as to not be worth bothering with.

-Kle.


Generally, stairs shouldn't count as difficult terrain unless they are particularly steep or unstable. It's just like the classic rapier duel on the staircase, where one of the combatants has to walk backwards as the other advances.

Now, take the stone stairway from Return of the King... 5-foot step that, and you'll be taking a pretty nasty spill.


Can't you take a 5 foot step into difficult terrain without penalty though? that would make this whole argument moot, as you can 5 foot on to the stairs, just not off them, or further down them.


Shigamori wrote:
Can't you take a 5 foot step into difficult terrain without penalty though? that would make this whole argument moot, as you can 5 foot on to the stairs, just not off them, or further down them.

I think you may have it a little backwards. You take the penalty if you step into difficult terrain. Just like you a take a hit point "penalty" if you step into a pool of acid. If you took no penalty when you stepped into the acid, and only took a penalty by stepping out of the acid...well, that just wouldn't seem right.

What you may be thinking about is threatened squares and attacks of opportunity. You can step into a threatened square without penalty, but if you step out of a threatened square (without taking a 5-ft step), then you provoke an attack of opportunity.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Valcrist wrote:


Stairs count as difficult terrain, so no 5 ft step.

"A character can move up or down stairs as part of their movement without penalty, but they cannot run on them. Increase the DC of any Acrobatics skill check made on stairs by 4. Some stairs are particularly steep and are treated as difficult terrain." Pathfinder Core Rulebook pg415

So you can 5-foot step as long as the steps are not too steep. This is up to the GM to decide what is steep and is not. I'd consider anything >45 degrees to be steep, therefore if the stairs go up five feet for every five feet forward then yes, it's difficult terrain and so you cannot take a 5-foot step. Otherwise you were right, and the step is legal.

As a sidenote I don't count descending stairs to be difficult terrain. Falling may be a problem though...

Happy Gaming!

Depends on the stairs. Are they sized for Humans?, for Ogres, or Halflings?, if they're too big or too small, then they aren't that easy to descend and thus would count as difficult terrain. Also are the in opimal condition? or are they falling apart?, will you put your foot thrugh them if you're not careful. Always, always, lots of things to keep in mind.

Osirion

If the stairs are not too steep, I would think that they are not difficult terrain unless the person is threatened or encumbered.

B

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