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Burrow and Walls?


Rules Questions


Can a creature with Burrow bore through walls?

How about wooden doors?

How about the hull of a ship?


3 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

Unfortunately, Burrow is not defined in pathfinder. Note: Earth Glide is a subset of burrow, it is not burrow.

Here is the relevant text from 3.5:

3.5 Monster Manual p311 Movement Modes wrote:
Burrow: A creature with a burrow speed can tunnel through dirt, but not through rock unless the descriptive text says otherwise. Creatures cannot charge or run while burrowing. Most burrowing creatures do not leave behind tunnels other creatures can use (either because the material they tunnel through fills in behind them or because they do not actually dislocate any material when burrowing); see the individual creature descriptions for details.

Thus, any answer is outside of RAW.

However, I would say no, burrow cannot burrow through wood/stone/metal walls/doors/hulls unless the ability states it can. Use the normal rules for breaching those substances. Maybe allow the creature to bypass some of the hardness if that is appropriate. But that is GM fiat territory.

- Gauss


So An earth elemental would be stopped cold by the roots of a tree?

A Bullete can basically swim through hard-packed ground but would be stopped cold by a wooden door?

A Thoqqua, which can swim through solid rock, can't go through a ship's hull?

Why is wood harder to get through than earth and stone?


Well, a Bullete could attack a wooden door and destroy it using the "attack to object" rule.

One could also make the opposite question: can a earthworm cross through a wooden hull? or an iron hull for that matter? Can a mole make a 20' hole in wood in one round?

In Pathfinder there's no descrpition about Burrow. In 3.5, it only worked on earth (not even on rock, or stone). So a mole can dig your yard, but can't dig the stone floor of your castle's dungeon. That was so in 3.5, as I said. Pathfinder has no rule about it.

Talking about earth elementals, they also have "earth glide". So one could assume they don't "burrow tunnels", they have burrowing movement because they can move through stone and earth as it weren't there. The same might not be true for wood (or even paper).

Sczarni

Quote:

Burrow

School transmutation; Level alchemist 3, druid 3, ranger 3,
sorcerer/wizard 3
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S
Range touch
Target creature touched
Duration 1 minute/level
Saving Throw Will negates (harmless); Spell Resistance yes
(harmless)
The subject can burrow at a speed of 15 feet (or 10 feet if it
wears medium or heavy armor, or if it carries a medium or
heavy load) through sand, loose soil, or gravel, or at a speed
of 5 feet through stone. Using burrow requires only as much
concentration as walking, so the subject can attack or cast
spells normally. The burrowing creature cannot charge or run.
Loose material collapses behind the target 1 round after it
leaves the area. This spell does not give the target the ability
to breathe underground, so when passing through loose
material, the creature must hold its breath and take only short
trips, or else it may suffocate.

Ultimate Magic pg. 210.

I allowed my PCs to use it to burrow through wood because I knew what they wanted to use it for and I knew it was going to come back to bite them. Per RAW however, no, you cannot use the spell to burrow through wood.


Earthworms don't Burrow. They just dig/eat.

The Burrow ability is a nigh-supernatural movement type where a creature moves through solid material at the about the same pace that other creatures walk.

Many things (thoqqua, for example) can Burrow through stone. Why would a wooden door slow them down?

Purple Worms live in jungles where the entire ground is laced with thick interlocking roots. They can't burrow through them?

Why is burrowing stopped by wood?

Sczarni

Because the rules don't say wood is a valid material for burrowing. Sand, loose soil, gravel, stone, these are all materials that can be burrowed through. Wood isn't on the list. So that would be why burrowing is stopped by wood, because wood isn't on the list.

If you don't like that, feel free to make a house rule.


Doomed Hero wrote:

Earthworms don't Burrow. They just dig/eat.

The Burrow ability is a nigh-supernatural movement type where a creature moves through solid material at the about the same pace that other creatures walk.

Many things (thoqqua, for example) can Burrow through stone. Why would a wooden door slow them down?

Purple Worms live in jungles where the entire ground is laced with thick interlocking roots. They can't burrow through them?

Why is burrowing stopped by wood?

Burrow is anything but supernatural ... so many creature in the wild got it ...

roots - are like difficult terrein while Burrowing - slowing you while you tear them.
thick wood would stop you but you can attack it .


Again, why would thick wood stop something that stone doesn't?

Why could a Bullete carve through hard packed plains like a shark, but the moment it hits a treeline, where the dirt is softer, the roots are somehow a deterrent?

Makes no sense. Either Burrow is a natural ability (possessed by many natural creatures), and has to obey common sense because it's natural, or it's supernatural, in which case something like stone being easier to move through than wood makes perfect sense.

I'm pretty sure it's listed as an Extraordinary ability, which means it's pretty much natural and not aided or hindered by anything supernatural. If that's the case, then wood should be easier to go through than dirt and rock.


Doomed Hero wrote:

Earthworms don't Burrow. They just dig/eat.

The Burrow ability is a nigh-supernatural movement type where a creature moves through solid material at the about the same pace that other creatures walk.

Many things (thoqqua, for example) can Burrow through stone. Why would a wooden door slow them down?

Purple Worms live in jungles where the entire ground is laced with thick interlocking roots. They can't burrow through them?

Why is burrowing stopped by wood?

Because as you said its nigh-supernatural. Its an ability that is not bound by physics and as such looking at in terms "This is harder then that so shouldn't it work on that?" is well flat out wrong.

It is like asking why Stone Shape won't work on wood. Because its a spell with power over stone. Burrowing is a ability/spell with power over earth and stone. Not wood.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Hiya.

I think the problem some are having is reading the rules and noting things that aren't there as if they were specifically excluded during the writing of said rules.

Corren28 wrote:
Because the rules don't say wood is a valid material for burrowing. Sand, loose soil, gravel, stone, these are all materials that can be burrowed through. Wood isn't on the list. So that would be why burrowing is stopped by wood, because wood isn't on the list.

(not trying to 'pick on' you Corren28, just using your quote as an example)

The above rules also doesn't reference air, or water, so, because it isn't on the list, the resulting (false) logic is that the Burrow ability actually can't be used. Ever.

Of course, that isn't how the rules are supposed to be used. The rules are there as base-line "here's the gist of it" guidelines for running a RPG campaign of some consistency. Using non-specific words like "soil", "sand" and "gravel" are not specific for a reason. This way, a competent GM can read the rules, look at the situation, and then make his own decision for his campaign.

So, basically, why "can't" a creature with Burrow mow through a ship's hull? No reason other than it was never specifically mentioned. If it makes sense for you to have a bulette tear through a ship's hull in one round...do it. If you think it's not cool, disallow it. Most likely there will be some middle ground (e.g., the bulette is considered to always to maximum critical damage each round to the wood, for example). The point is this: The rules are not about specifically excluding or including specific things...the rules are about "here's the baseline, use your own brain to figure out the weird situations". If a GM can't make up his own decision on how to handle things in game, maybe GM'ing isn't for him/her.

^_^

Paul L. Ming


Doomed Hero wrote:

Again, why would thick wood stop something that stone doesn't?

Why could a Bullete carve through hard packed plains like a shark, but the moment it hits a treeline, where the dirt is softer, the roots are somehow a deterrent?

Makes no sense. Either Burrow is a natural ability (possessed by many natural creatures), and has to obey common sense because it's natural, or it's supernatural, in which case something like stone being easier to move through than wood makes perfect sense.

I'm pretty sure it's listed as an Extraordinary ability, which means it's pretty much natural and not aided or hindered by anything supernatural. If that's the case, then wood should be easier to go through than dirt and rock.

A bullete can dig through the dirt, and the roots are just "difficult terrain" for him. Not very different from walking in the surface through a dense bush.

Burrow is supernatural, or natural, depending on the creature. A (regular) Badger have burrow 10'. I find it difficult to see a badger making a 20' hole in a big sequoia in one turn, let alone making a 20' hole in say, the Chinese Great Wall.
Several others animals have burrow too. Wolverines , for example. And, although not listed, probably moles, or earthworms. Some other creatures have supernatural burrow ability. Like a Xorn, who just melt with the stone and "swim" about it.

The Thoqqua, specifies:
"Thoqquas are cantankerous creatures of f ire and slag.
Their bodies generate incredible heat that allows them
to burrow or melt through most surfaces
, even solid
rock"

Unless specifically described so in the creature ability, as an exception (ie: thoqqua), they can't burrow through stone, or burrow at 5' per turn. A bulette can't make a big 60' hole in pure granite in a round.

I'm going to cite a few burrowing creatures in the Bestiary:
"Ankhegs burrow with their legs and mandibles,
moving with unsettling speed through loose soil, sand,
gravel, and the like—they cannot burrow through solid
stone.
"

Bulettes:
"Burrowing rapidly through the earth just
beneath the surface, sometimes with its armored
fin cutting a distinctive wake behind it"

By the way, earth elementals burrow is related to it's glide ability. They can go through stone, but they can't go through other materials. That include not only wood, but even cloth or paper, because they cant "wood glide", only "earth glide". It's described as :

"Earth Glide (Ex) A burrowing earth elemental can pass through
stone, dirt, or almost any other sort of earth except metal
as
easily as a fish swims through water. If protected against fire
damage, it can even glide through lava. Its burrowing leaves
behind no tunnel or hole, nor does it create any ripple
or
other sign of its presence."


Doomed Hero wrote:

So An earth elemental would be stopped cold by the roots of a tree?

A Bullete can basically swim through hard-packed ground but would be stopped cold by a wooden door?

A Thoqqua, which can swim through solid rock, can't go through a ship's hull?

Why is wood harder to get through than earth and stone?

An earth elemental can definitely not go through wood. Loose roots would be the same as a person walking through heavy brush, as someone above said, you can move through them but slower as they obstruct you like brush would. Big or thick roots would be like someone trying to walk through a tree trunk or a wall of thorns, with a heavy stregnth check required to break through (plain impossible for most people, but an elder elemental is strong enough to be able to do it).

The earth elemental ability plainly says what it works on, and wood isn't there, though. So. You can't do it.

Quote:
A burrowing earth elemental can pass through stone, dirt, or almost any other sort of earth except metal

As for bulette, he is a big strong monster, he can probably make any strength checks to burst through something that is obstructing him (same as a bigger earth elemental, or a regular monster trying to burst through a door).

Thoqqua has a similar thing, he can deal fire damage to damage wood obstacles.

So none of these monsters are stopped cold as you say, but they all have to use the rules and not just phase through wooden obstacles.


Burrowing isn't "phasing". That's Earth Glide. I could definitely see roots or doors stopping Earth Glide, but not Burrow.

Burrowing is just digging, like using a shovel very quickly.

If a critter can only dig through dirt, I can see wood being a problem for them, but if they can dig through stone, wood's actually easier than they are used to.

Aslo, no rules anywhere mention anything acting as "difficult terrain" while burrowing. Purple Worms don't get slowed down by roots in the jungle. If they did it would be mentioned somewhere.

Sczarni

Multiple people have already given you your solution. No, per RAW, burrow does not allow you to pass through wood unless specifically stated. Per RAW, said creature would make an attack against the object and (probably) tear through it with ease.

If this makes no sense to you, just create a house rule and allow burrow to apply to wood as well. It's an easy fix bro.

Quote:
(not trying to 'pick on' you Corren28, just using your quote as an example)

No worries! :)


Quote:

Burrowing is just digging, like using a shovel very quickly.

If a critter can only dig through dirt, I can see wood being a problem for them, but if they can dig through stone, wood's actually easier than they are used to.

You know, you are right. But sometimes rules are there for good gameplay and not to totally represent real world physics exactly.

As an example, you know what else is easier to dig through than stone? Soft yielding monster flesh. If a creature can burrow through stone, surely it should be able to burrow through monsters and auto kill him, right? (or at least, let it burrow through a stone golem and auto kill that, right?).

But thats not how the rules work. And there are some good reasons for it, even ignoring silly scenarios like burrowing through creatures. For example there are high level spells like Earthquake for destroying the wooden fort or the king's manor, that would get obsoleted if you could do the same thing with a badger summon/pet at level 1 and at totally unrealiztic speed.

Now it seems you already decided what answer you wanted before you started this thread, and if so, I would say go ahead and houserule it (did someone summon a tree to stop a monster or something? Its fine to use common sense saying that a little tree wouldnt really bother a giant monster, I dont think anyone would argue too much if you handwaved it for a purple worm even). Anyway, though, you know what RAW (such as it is) is, now, and always it is best to know RAW first before going to the house rule.

Hope htis has helped.

EDIT: Also, for roots and such, this is where GM is supposed to use his judgment to decide whether roots are an impediment or not. Some tiny little plant roots might not stop a purple worm, but mighty jungle behemoth redwood roots a yard thick might slow it down. You can't expect a rulebook to cover every little situation like this and spend pages telling you exactly how thick a root is big enough to stop a burrowing purple worm for the one in a thousand groups who this would matter for, this is what GMs are for.

And I think we only offered that interpretation as advice to you in your GMing, as it seemed you were looking for a way to rule on a critter going through roots. That is how I would do it. But that's more offered as a way to make RAW (you can't burrow through wood) and your complaint about creatures moving through roots less disagreeing with each other, wile still being a common sense explanation. So if you hate it, don't use it. I will say though that it is totally silly to insist on RAW on roots slowing something down (which seems like good common sense) but then say that common sense has to overrule RAW with burrowing through wood at all. Pick one or the other! :p


The scenario that sparked the question was an earth elemental burrowing through a wooden ship hull in order to put a hole in the ship, if that helps anyone think about the answer.

That said, there is only one really correct RAW answer: it's up to the DM. Yeah, usually not the right answer in the rules forum, but in this case, Paizo forgot to to write any rules in Pathfinder saying what burrow actually does. Therefore, all the stuff masquerading as RAW in this thread is really just arguing what is the best house rule and whether to bring old 3.5 stuff (like d20pfsrd did) into it.

Personally I would adjudicate the initial question by stealing the break DC for a sturdy wooden door and having the elemental roll against it with a +2 to represent its burrowy prowess. Mostly because when I DM I habitually use circumstantial +2s to adjudicate cool/advantageous things not strictly covered by RAW. But if the DM wants to make it automatic success, or plain impossible, or anything in between, in this case he would be exactly as close to the RAW as I with any of those answers.

As a minor aside with little relationship to anything, having in the past worked on a trail crew digging stuff with shovels and other hand tools for a living, I can say that a thick tree root is way more of an impediment to digging than a five hundred pound rock. Tree roots - at least, big ones of the sort one finds when working in an old growth forest - are a huge g++@##n pain in the everything. Boulders are practically an aid to digging, you pull out the boulder in five minutes and get a big old hole for practically free.

Does this have any relationship to the imaginary ability of a creature which doesn't need to displace things to burrow through them (I personally imagine an earth elemental moving through earth like a wave through water)? Nope!


It seems to me that a good way of looking at it would be to compare Hardness.

Dirt doesn't really have Hardness, so things that burrow through dirt could only go through things with no hardness (like cloth, which makes sense. A Badger could definitely shred a sack in no time).

Stone has a hardness of 8. Things that can Burrow through stone could go through things with Hardness 8 or less. This keeps Earth Elementals from being stopped by sheets of glass.

Badgers have a problem burrowing through tree roots. Earth Elementals dont. Thoqqua (which can Burrow though just about anything according to their description) could probably even ignore/melt metal.

The issues of Burrowing through Stone Golems is avoided entirely by the fact that Creatures have DR, not Hardness. Once the golem was dead, then it could be Burrowed through.


Doomed Hero wrote:

Burrowing isn't "phasing". That's Earth Glide. I could definitely see roots or doors stopping Earth Glide, but not Burrow.

Burrowing is just digging, like using a shovel very quickly.

If a critter can only dig through dirt, I can see wood being a problem for them, but if they can dig through stone, wood's actually easier than they are used to.

Aslo, no rules anywhere mention anything acting as "difficult terrain" while burrowing. Purple Worms don't get slowed down by roots in the jungle. If they did it would be mentioned somewhere.

In game, burrowing is not digging. It's a mode of movement that depends on the creature. Thoqqua don't dig, they melt their way. Purple worms don't dig, they eat whatever is in front of them, explicitly minerals, gems and rocks too (so yes, probably roots as well). Ankhegs dig with their jaws and legs, but it's explicitly said that he can only do so through dirt, not through stone or other materials (that includes wood). Xorns, on the other hand, don't dig, they glide through stone.

In the case of Earth elementals, Earth Glide is the way they get their "burrowing" mode of movement.

It's in their Earth Glide description:

"Earth Glide (Ex) A burrowing earth elemental can pass through stone, dirt, or almost any other sort of earth except metal as easily as a fish swims through water. If protected against fire damage, it can even glide through lava. Its burrowing leaves behind no tunnel or hole, nor does it create any ripple or other sign of its presence."

The burrowing of a Thoqqua melt stuff, that includes metal, except *maybe* Adamantine or some other special stuff, because that's it's description. The burrowing of an Ankhegg goes through dirt but not through stone, that's it's description too. The burrowing of an earth elemental, though, leaves behind no tunnel or hole

Shadow Lodge Dedicated Voter 2014

Doomed Hero wrote:

Earthworms don't Burrow. They just dig/eat.

The Burrow ability is a nigh-supernatural movement type where a creature moves through solid material at the about the same pace that other creatures walk.

Many things (thoqqua, for example) can Burrow through stone. Why would a wooden door slow them down?

Purple Worms live in jungles where the entire ground is laced with thick interlocking roots. They can't burrow through them?

Why is burrowing stopped by wood?

Because it takes a badger a little while to dig out of a wooden box.


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.
gustavo iglesias wrote:


It's in their Earth Glide description...

I read that as "Earth Glide is something Earth Elementals can do while burrowing". It's an option, the same way someone who is running can also jump.

An earth elemental can Earth Glide. They can also burrow normally. Why would Earth Glide be the only way they can burrow?

BigNorseWolf wrote:


Because it takes a badger a little while to dig out of a wooden box.

A badger, sure. How about a Thoqqua?

I sort of covered that in my hardness idea.

Seems like Burrow would benefit from some additional specificity within the general movement type, kind of like Fly has.


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.
Doomed Hero wrote:
gustavo iglesias wrote:


It's in their Earth Glide description...

I read that as "Earth Glide is something Earth Elementals can do while burrowing". It's an option, the same way someone who is running can also jump.

An earth elemental can Earth Glide. They can also burrow normally. Why would Earth Glide be the only way they can burrow?

What is, in game terms, "burrow normally"? Is it to remove earth using your hands/claws as shovels, making a tunnel? If that's burrowing... how does a purpple worm burrow, then? Or a Thoqqua?

Why wouldn't it the only way they can burrow? Why would them be able to borrow other creatures form of burrow, such as the Bullette form? Can they melt things like Thoqquas? Or eat their way such as purple worms?

Burrowing is not a "rule", it's a "mode of movement". Having the mode of movement "burrow" is similar to having the mode of movement "swim". Just because Michael Phelps the Merfolk has a swimming movemen't and a python has it too, it doesn't means the python can swim using butterfly stroke as Phelps does. Just because a dove and a helicopter both have fly mode of movement doesn't mean the helicopter can glide using his wings.

That a creature, as an earth elemental, or Thoqqua, or Purple Worm, or Bullette, share a mode of movement. The "burrow X feet" in their entrance has no other rule meaning, but th amount of feet they can move underground. Each of those mode of movements is different, and how it works is described in the description. For example, the ankheg use his jaws. The bulette use his claws. The Thoqqua doesn't use his jaws or his claws, use his melting bore head. The purple worm, on the other hand, eat through the earth. And the Earth Elemental *glides* through stone. Assuming the earth elemental can borrow the Bulette or Ankheg method has no support in the earth elemental description, and thus has the same back up than assuming they can borrow the Thoqqua or Purple Worm method. To be able to *claw* their way into earth like the bulette does, an earth elemental would need.... claws. Which it doesn't have, it has slams as his listed mode of attack, not claws. Slamming through dirt sounds as a poor method to build a tunnel.

EDIT: Also, note that the Earth Glide description says " Its burrowing leaves behind no tunnel or hole, nor does it create any ripple or other sign of its presence." Not "Its earthgliding leave behidn no tunnel or hole", it's describing his burrowing method as a whole.


I understand what you're saying. It just seems very silly to me that an Earth Elemental can't dig a hole. Really, they should be the undisputed kings of digging holes, at least until the invention of the shovel elemental.

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