Can unintelligent animals make a 5-foot step?


Rules Questions

Grand Lodge

We've been having an ongoing conversation in one of my games and the resolution doesn't make any sense to me. The ruling has been that animals cannot make a 5-foot step adjustment, they would have to make it as a move action.

My character, a druid, has an animal companion with an intelligence of 3, but I've been told that the animal can no longer make 5-foot steps, she has to take a move-action to do it.

I searched the forums for an answer and couldn't find anything. What is the general opinion of the community or is there something specific in the rules about this?

I have no problem with animals (including the ones that want to bite my head off) taking a 5-foot step as an adjust then still taking their full attack action.

Thanks for the help!

Dark Archive

KigerWulf wrote:

We've been having an ongoing conversation in one of my games and the resolution doesn't make any sense to me. The ruling has been that animals cannot make a 5-foot step adjustment, they would have to make it as a move action.

My character, a druid, has an animal companion with an intelligence of 3, but I've been told that the animal can no longer make 5-foot steps, she has to take a move-action to do it.

I searched the forums for an answer and couldn't find anything. What is the general opinion of the community or is there something specific in the rules about this?

I have no problem with animals (including the ones that want to bite my head off) taking a 5-foot step as an adjust then still taking their full attack action.

Thanks for the help!

I have never heard of a rule about this. I would think it would be more of a matter of wisdom or self preservation than Int. The animal would act cautiously to avoid a hit if it could, intelligence really wouldnt factor in.


Why not? maybe they are not the more inteligent creatures but centainly a tiger would know how to fight, and that includes 5-foot steps


There is no such rule. No creature type affects 5-foot steps that I can see.

Dark Archive

First of all, it's now above base animal intelligence. A 3 in intelligence is enough to have an alignment, a philosophy, and to learn a language.

So yes, he should be able to 5-foot step. That's just combat basics, and if a sorcerer can do it with +0 BAB, then your tiger definitely can.


Agreed. Seems like it would be an obvious survival instinct rather than something based on intelligence.

If this is a house rule it is a different situation, but I wouldn't agree with it myself.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

A wolf pack is easily envisioned by 5' step adjustments to setup multiple flanking positions without triggering AoO's. Other animals also easily.

There is no rule in the game as others above have stated that denies the Animal Type this option.


Rathendar wrote:

A wolf pack is easily envisioned by 5' step adjustments to setup multiple flanking positions without triggering AoO's. Other animals also easily.

There is no rule in the game as others above have stated that denies the Animal Type this option.

Exactly. 5' steps are basic instinct. Have potentially hostile creatures directly to your left and right? Back up until you can see them both at the same time, or until your butt hits a wall. Every animal in real life will do this.

Dark Archive

Well, what about Veloceraptors doing a 5-foot step?

Liberty's Edge

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that is retarded, smack in the face whoever said an animal can't make a 5 foot step. They can and DO all the time in the real world.

Hell many animals in the real world have better....MUCH better combat tactics that 90% of the worlds humans.


Couple of things to note here:

PRD - Intelligence wrote:
Intelligence determines how well your character learns and reasons. This ability is important for wizards because it affects their spellcasting ability in many ways. Creatures of animal-level instinct have Intelligence scores of 1 or 2. Any creature capable of understanding speech has a score of at least 3.

An animal with INT of 3 is reasonably intelligent, can understand speech and can formulate basic tactics (non-instinctual, not pack hunting).

Personally, I would say that a creature with an intelligence score of -, 1 or 2 would have a hard time determining when to use a 5ft step, the concept of an attack of opportunity or the consequences of running away without using a withdraw action. But, that just might be me...

As your companion has an INT of 3 and a Human with an INT of 3 could still speak & write in Common, I don't see why they couldn't make some of these more "tactical" decisions.


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tell your dm you found the rule in the fine print under handle animal.

Point at it and tell him to look closely.

When he leans in bring the sides of the book up smartly.


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My mom has a little 'kick-me' dog... It keeps running up and barking at me to pick it up. As I reach for it, it leaps about 5' away and looks at me. When I stand back up it jumps back in and barks again...

This happens ALL DAY LONG!!!

So YEAH, Intelligence has nothing to do with it. This dog is an idiot and yet has mastered the 5' step.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber
phantom1592 wrote:

My mom has a little 'kick-me' dog... It keeps running up and barking at me to pick it up. As I reach for it, it leaps about 5' away and looks at me. When I stand back up it jumps back in and barks again...

This happens ALL DAY LONG!!!

So YEAH, Intelligence has nothing to do with it. This dog is an idiot and yet has mastered the 5' step.

My dog knows this game, too. Granted, she's smarter than she lets on, but she's still a dog. . .


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

There are two very different things going here.

1st. An animal must certainly can 5' step. For example lion and archer are going toe to toe. Archer 5' steps back and full attacks. Now they lion can't close the distance an full attack back against the archer, that's just silly.

2nd. The second issue is what tactics does the animal know.

I tend to think most animals, particularly most predator animals or ones trained for combat have a pretty good sense of melee combat. They know how to flank (particularly if trained to work with humans or other animals.) They know probably know how to aid others. They know how to corner prey and reduce the chance it escapes. They know how charge works, and again if in pack they probably know how to let their companions get charges in as well. They know what a typical AoO is and how to avoid it and can probably make reasonable guess as to when its worth risking the AoO or not.

Where (imo) they fall short is magic/range combat interaction. Knowing the exact radius and optimum placement of the parties planned fireball is probably beyond them. Knowing that a 5' step, would move them out of the enemy sorcerer 30' cone of cold (or that such a move would reduce the number of party members hit) probably not justifiable.


KigerWulf, perhaps it's a houserule and someone forgot to mention it.
Druids and other summoners are good candidates for housrules that weaken them.


Yes your group who ruled that animals don't take 5' steps should be beaten about the head and shoulders with a +2 cluebat. I could see specific times, especially related to spellcasting AoE and such, where they would not think to make a 5' step, or for instance taking a 5' step away from a melee opponent to be next to a spellcaster to threaten them, but blanket stating that animals can't take 5' steps is ridiculous.


Yes, animals can take 5ft steps. And intelligence 3 is higher than animals normally have, it's intelligent enough to learn languages.

However, note that you don't have any brain control powers over your companion - it isn't a machine. You basically tell it to do something; if it knows a language (through the linguistics skill) you can just order it whatever in that language. If it doesn't, you have to use handle animal or speak with animals.


It's not even about intelligence, it's about how much the movement cost you your time in the round.

The game says that 5 feet of movement is free (barring outlier situations, like difficult terrain), such that you can still get a full round of actions.

The fact that it's labeled as a "5' Step" means nothing. It's not even a factor of tactics. An animal moving 1 square forward to advance on a person who 5' stepped away (to avoid attacks of opportunity) didn't move enough to warrant a move action, and can get a full attack.

I'm not sure why Intelligence has anything to do with how much movement costs in a round. The ruling makes animals feel more like zombies (slower than normal creatures in combat). Animals are anything but slow moving creatures.

Also.. if a DM is wanting to hobble a tiger using druid's animal companion, he'd better find some other way to do it, since his ruling basically hobbles any animal/low int encounters he sets up.


1) Youtube search for "Animals fighting".
2) Point to 5' step being used over and over.

Grand Lodge

What makes me laugh is that I never said it was a tiger... everyone just assumes.

Thanks for all the help everyone. The community of Pathfinders has confirmed my suspicions.

I appreciate it.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Nicos wrote:
Why not? maybe they are not the more inteligent creatures but centainly a tiger would know how to fight, and that includes 5-foot steps

Tigers know how to rend, claw, and bite. In the wild, they take down prey that's not equipped to fight back. That's a far cry from expecting them to act as tatical as a human fighter.


The 5 foot step is tied more to Wisdom (awareness of surroundings/self/your own abilities and common sense) than Intelligence (ability to learn/rationalize).

Any creature that has a reasonably high Wisdom score is going to be able to function pretty effectively in combat (complete with 5-foot steps, withdraw action, fighting defensively, etc). Most animals have a pretty decent Wisdom score.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
LazarX wrote:
Nicos wrote:
Why not? maybe they are not the more inteligent creatures but centainly a tiger would know how to fight, and that includes 5-foot steps
Tigers know how to rend, claw, and bite. In the wild, they take down prey that's not equipped to fight back. That's a far cry from expecting them to act as tatical as a human fighter.

But a 5-foot step isn't super tactical. It's a shift in position as much as anything else and easily justified with any intelligence level.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Bill Dunn wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Nicos wrote:
Why not? maybe they are not the more inteligent creatures but centainly a tiger would know how to fight, and that includes 5-foot steps
Tigers know how to rend, claw, and bite. In the wild, they take down prey that's not equipped to fight back. That's a far cry from expecting them to act as tatical as a human fighter.
But a 5-foot step isn't super tactical. It's a shift in position as much as anything else and easily justified with any intelligence level.

But you're forgetting something basic here. Animals ARE NOT people. Even if you cheese it's INT, it's not a sentient being it's fighting style is programmed into it by evolved instinct, not learned. Bob the Moronic Barbarian with an Int of 3 still has a sense of tactics that a Tiger with an Int of 4 will never acquire.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
LazarX wrote:


But a 5-foot step isn't super tactical. It's a shift in position as much as anything else and easily justified with any intelligence level.

But you're forgetting something basic here. Animals ARE NOT people. Even if you cheese it's INT, it's not a sentient being it's fighting style is programmed into it by evolved instinct, not learned. Bob the Moronic Barbarian with an Int of 3 still has a sense of tactics that a Tiger with an Int of 4 will never acquire.

And like I said, since shifting positions isn't super tactical anyway, intelligence (animal or not) shouldn't matter. Evolved instinct survives in populations because it works more effectively at promoting individual survival than alternatives. That's quite enough justification to have an animal shift a square in combat.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Maezer wrote:


I tend to think most animals, particularly most predator animals or ones trained for combat have a pretty good sense of melee combat. They know how to flank (particularly if trained to work with humans or other animals.) They know probably know how to aid others. They know how to corner prey and reduce the chance it escapes. They know how charge works, and again if in pack they probably know how to let their companions get charges in as well. They know what a typical AoO is and how to avoid it and can probably make reasonable guess as to when its worth risking the AoO or not.

Solo Predators don't come built in with knowledge of team tactics. Only animals like wolves that normally hunt in packs would have any notion of flanking or any other tatic that requires coordination with another.

And I need to make the point here most predator animals don't take down prey that can fight back. Most prey animals have no defense other than stealth and running so when it comes down to melee it's over for them unless they get an opportunity to make a break for it. So in nature they don't develop defensive tactics.


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People are ignoring the original posts statement.

The GM is saying that an animal should take a move action to move 5 feet. This would be the wrong way to adjust the game to suit the idea of an animal not using tactics.

Moving 5 feet forward to follow someone and full attack is not even tactical thinking... it's simply "I didn't have to move more than the listed amount to get where I wanted, and it didn't take that much time, or leave me open".

Having an animal adjust it's position with a 5' step to get into a flanking position? That can be called into question.
A horse doing something like that (without a specific trick being trained for it), probably not. An animal that fights like that normally (such as a wolf), sounds more feasible.

But none of that really gives any reason as to why the animal would need a move action to move 5 feet of movement. It's not a matter of the 5 foot step rule, but rather about whether an animal would move into flanking positions, and other such actions.

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