When do you count Difficult Terrain?


Rules Questions


Trying to find the answer to this in light of it coming up at a recent session. Do you count the extra movement cost for difficult terrain while moving into it or moving out? And where is this stated? All I could find is that moving "through" difficult terrain costs double movement, which seems somewhat vague to me.


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

Seems to me you count it when moving in.

I could argue that this is just plain common sense, but since this is the Rules Questions forum, I went looking for actual RAW to support this. Oddly enough, I cannot find any RAW that explicitly says to count the terrain as you enter it.

However, AFAIK, the only time moving out of a square matters is when deciding if your movement provokes an AoO.

Obviously, if you don't count terrain consideration when moving into a square, then you might be able to move into spaces you otherwise would not be able to move into. Let's look at the worst case scenarios:

If you only decide whether terrain is passable when you leave a square, then a normal human could move into a space filled entirely with stone (such as moving from a dungeon corridor into a solid wall that has no further dungeon excavation behind it). Clearly you should ordinarily not be able to do this.

Thus, we must decide if your movement into that stone-filled space is legal before you move into it.

OK, so that one was obvious. But consider moving through a space your friend is standing in. This is legal as long as your friend lets you through and as long as you don't stop in his space. So let's say you fire an arrow and then move down the narrow corridor with a movement rate of 30. Your friend is standing 30 feet away. So you move 25' and now you only have 5' remaining to move into the space where your friend is standing.

If you only decide whether that square, occupied by your non-helpless friend, is considered an occupied space when you leave that square, then you could move into the space and end your turn in your friend's space since the square won't be considered occupied until your next turn when you (or your friend) leave the space. This would clearly be breaking the rules since the RAW clearly states that you cannot end your turn in an occupied space unless the other occupant is helpless.

So we have two clear precedents where it would be illegal for you to make a move into certain terrain and then wait to determine what kind of terrain it is until you move out of the terrain.

That should be enough to extend those precedents into other types of movement into other types of terrain. All other types of terrain. Further, with this established precedent, we can apply it to all movement into any terrain until and unless we find an explicit exception in the RAW (which I cannot find).

In short, you consider the terrain before you move into it and apply any movement restrictions based on that terrain as you move into it.


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion Subscriber

+1 DM Blake.

Not counting terrain penalties until you move out of it would open up all kinds of ridiculous situations like Blake mentioned, walking inside a wall because it didn't count against your movement until you left it would be perfectly legal that way.

The only time that leaving a square is important is for opportunity attacks (because people are watching for you to make a mistake as you turn tail to flee the square), the square itself "attacks" you when you enter it.


Perfect. That's precisely the well-reasoned thinking I was hoping someone would be able to make, heh. And, although I hadn't thought of it that way, it does make a lot of sense, and the reverse makes very little.

But, yes, as you said, there doesn't seem to be any explicit mention of when it's counted, although this line of reasoning works perfectly for me.

Thanks again. :)

Dark Archive

Brogue The Rogue wrote:
Trying to find the answer to this in light of it coming up at a recent session. Do you count the extra movement cost for difficult terrain while moving into it or moving out? And where is this stated? All I could find is that moving "through" difficult terrain costs double movement, which seems somewhat vague to me.

It is mentioned by inference in the example of Tactical Movement "Next he moves into difficult terrain, also costing him 10 feet.".

It is also implied by the Terrain and Obstacles statement on diagonal difficult terrain "Each diagonal move into a difficult terrain square counts as 3 squares."


So I get very clearly that moving into Difficult terrain costs you the extra movement. But does moving Out of difficult terrain into a regular square cost you extra movement as well? Or just a regular 5 foot cost? Hope someone sees this And is kind enough to answer; thanks.


Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

Can you five foot step out of difficult terrain into a normal square ?


Ania Zoek wrote:
So I get very clearly that moving into Difficult terrain costs you the extra movement. But does moving Out of difficult terrain into a regular square cost you extra movement as well? Or just a regular 5 foot cost? Hope someone sees this And is kind enough to answer; thanks.

Here's the rule that answers this question:

Difficult Terrain and Tactical Movement wrote:

Tactical Movement

Tactical movement is used for combat. Characters generally don’t walk during combat, for obvious reasons—they hustle or run instead. A character who moves his speed and takes some action is hustling for about half the round and doing something else the other half.

Hampered Movement: Difficult terrain, obstacles, and poor visibility can hamper movement (see Table: Hampered Movement for details). When movement is hampered, each square moved into usually counts as two squares, effectively reducing the distance that a character can cover in a move.

If more than one hampering condition applies, multiply all additional costs that apply. This is a specific exception to the normal rule for doubling.

In some situations, your movement may be so hampered that you don’t have sufficient speed even to move 5 feet (1 square). In such a case, you may use a full-round action to move 5 feet (1 square) in any direction, even diagonally. Even though this looks like a 5-foot step, it’s not, and thus it provokes attacks of opportunity normally. (You can’t take advantage of this rule to move through impassable terrain or to move when all movement is prohibited to you.)

You can’t run or charge through any square that would hamper your movement.

Moving out of difficult terrain does not cost extra. The extra movement cost is done when you move INTO it.

SlimGauge wrote:
Can you five foot step out of difficult terrain into a normal square ?

Yes, you can make a 5ft step OUT of difficult terrain because the extra movement cost is only applied when you move INTO the square. You cannot take a 5ft step to move INTO a square with difficult terrain though.


Difficult Terrain applies its penalties whether you're leaving it or entering it. Per the Difficult Terrain entry under Terrain and Obstacles section of the combat rules: "If you occupy squares with different kinds of terrain, you can move only as fast as the most difficult terrain you occupy will allow.". If you're starting your turn in difficult terrain, you are occupying a square with difficult terrain, and you can only move as fast as the most difficult terrain you occupy allows... meaning you're taking difficult terrain penalties.

Otherwise the Weapon Mastery feat Difficult Swings is far less useful, with the enemy still constantly able to 5ft away from you or withdraw right away.


Ryze Kuja wrote:
Difficult Terrain and Tactical Movement wrote:


When movement is hampered, each square moved into usually counts as two squares, effectively reducing the distance that a character can cover in a move.
Moving out of difficult terrain does not cost extra. The extra movement cost is done when you move INTO it.

I think I agree, but that's not the winning argument it appears to be. It doesn't specifically say the terrain of the square you're moving into is what defines whether you're hampered.

Previous discussion

Unfortunately it was never FAQ'd.


Thanks everyone for helping me out with this ruling, & for the link to "Previous discussion" I read though most of it. The 5 foot step out of DT was also an interesting debate...

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I think you are conflating two different things.

1) Moving into a square cost double if it is different terrain, leaving difficult terrain doesn't cost anything.

2) Some terrain has the effect of reducing your movement instead of increasing the cost of entering the square. If you are on a cliff face you are forced to climb and your speed is reduced to your climbing speed, if you are walking on the floor of a lake (and don't have Freedom of movement) you are limited to half speed, and so on.
In that situation, your starting terrain affects your movement.

Note that if your movement speed is reduced but you can use a kind of movement for which you get a listed speed you can generally take a 5' step, while you can't take a 5' step to enter difficult terrain.


If you applied the movement cost of 2 to enter the square, and then applied 2 movement cost to get out of the square, that's a total of 4. If it were meant to be that way, it would say so explicitly in the rules somewhere.

Since this was never FAQ'ed, I'm going to stick with movement cost only being applied ONCE when you move INTO the square because that's exactly what the rules say, and frankly, charging twice for a total of 4 movement to enter and leave 1 square of difficult terrain is absurd and your PC's would form a rules lawyer uprising against you in about .08 seconds.


What are you talking about? Movement *cost* is obviously only calculated when you’re moving into a square, but moment penalties apply if you start your square in difficult terrain. If a character is on the edge of a swamp and they’re 5ft away from solid ground, they still have to pry their legs out of the mud and silt to move out of their current square. They aren’t suddenly free of the constraints of their terrain just because they can move out of it? That’s a ridiculous premise. If you start your turn in difficult terrain, you take any related penalties to difficult terrain for your movement out of difficult terrain


RAWmonger wrote:
If a character is on the edge of a swamp and they’re 5ft away from solid ground, they still have to pry their legs out of the mud and silt to move out of their current square.

So you're saying that does cost two squares of movement?


No, the cost is applied to squares you move into, but penalties based on being in difficult terrain (such as not being able to take a 5ft step or withdraw) apply, because you’re currently in difficult terrain. I’ll answer your question with a question: does a creature standing on a grease spell get to 5ft step out of the grease without having to make a save, since you’re always adjacent to one edge of grease? Waaayyyy too many spells and abilities that control battlefield become useless if you start ignoring other penalties of difficult terrain (charging, 5ft step, withdraw, run, etc...)


RAWmonger wrote:
What are you talking about? Movement *cost* is obviously only calculated when you’re moving into a square, but moment penalties apply if you start your square in difficult terrain. If a character is on the edge of a swamp and they’re 5ft away from solid ground, they still have to pry their legs out of the mud and silt to move out of their current square. They aren’t suddenly free of the constraints of their terrain just because they can move out of it? That’s a ridiculous premise. If you start your turn in difficult terrain, you take any related penalties to difficult terrain for your movement out of difficult terrain

I just looked through all the Difficult Terrain rules I could find and none of them say that if you start your turn in Difficult Terrain then you're charged twice to move out of it, only that you're charged twice when you move into it. It makes sense that you would be charged twice if you start your turn in difficult terrain though. Can you provide a source for that rule?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Let's make an example:
a character is underwater (without freedom of movement), walking on the bottom of a lake and has to move up a stairway.
His movement is half the base value, so 15' for a human. He is going up a stairway so he pays double for every square he enters. Net result: he can move a square paying 10' of movement.
The same situation, but he has freedom of movement. He retains his 30' base movement and can move 3 squares along the stairs paying 10' of movement for each square.

The effect that halves the character movement is unrelated to the cost of the square he enters. Same thing if you are under an effect that multiplies your movement.
Let's say our character has an ability that allows him to run at x3 even in difficult terrain but doesn't remove the cost for the difficult terrain. He still pays 10' for each square of difficult terrain, but his base movement is now 90'.

Essentially, movement multipliers and added cost for specific squares are separated effects.


as far as movement goes pathfinder looks at the square you are entering to determine how much that move costs. you can 5foot step OUT of difficult etc.


RAWmonger wrote:
No, the cost is applied to squares you move into, but penalties based on being in difficult terrain (such as not being able to take a 5ft step or withdraw) apply, because you’re currently in difficult terrain. I’ll answer your question with a question: does a creature standing on a grease spell get to 5ft step out of the grease without having to make a save, since you’re always adjacent to one edge of grease? Waaayyyy too many spells and abilities that control battlefield become useless if you start ignoring other penalties of difficult terrain (charging, 5ft step, withdraw, run, etc...)

Withdraw action makes no mention of difficult terrain. You can withdraw while in, or moving into, difficult terrain.

As for the 5' step, the rules state:

Quote:


You can only take a 5-foot-step if your movement isn’t hampered by difficult terrain or darkness.

If I am in difficult terrain, at the edge of non-difficult terrain, and I take a move action to move 5 feet (into the non-difficult terrain) it costs me 5' of my base movement speed. Under what scenario can we then claim that for purposes of a 5' step your movement is hampered if an actual move action would allow us to move with no reduction in the distance we move?

RAWMonger wrote:


If a character is on the edge of a swamp and they’re 5ft away from solid ground, they still have to pry their legs out of the mud and silt to move out of their current square. They aren’t suddenly free of the constraints of their terrain just because they can move out of it?

Your position in a 5' square is an abstraction of the characters location. They could be anywhere in that 5' area. Near any edge, near any corner. It could be they need to actually move 5' just get past a given edge. Or they could already be standing within inches of that edge and only need to slide both feet a few inches to be in the next 5' square. So who is to say the swamp to non-swamp square is a perfect straight line. If we want to talk about realism we could say they are already standing on dry ground - at the border of that rough non-straight edge that vaguely defines where the swamp starts. They are not stuck in the swamp, but one step toward the swamp puts them in that foot capturing sucking mud and water, but one step the other way removes them from that risk completely.

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