# 5 foot step on a narrow surface. And the flatness of foot

### Rules Questions

You're traversing a long narrow surface. It is not difficult terrain beyond its narrowness. If you're in combat, can you take a 5 foot step?

You're not moving at full speed, so does that mean you're flat footed? Or can you choose to take the +5 DC and 5 foot step at 'full speed', step confidently (if riskily) and not be so open to attack?

Acrobatics

draxar wrote:
You're traversing a long narrow surface. It is not difficult terrain beyond its narrowness. If you're in combat, can you take a 5 foot step?

Yes, but once you've 5ft-stepped onto the Narrow Surface, you would need to make an Acrobatics Check and you'd be considered Flat-footed and lose your Dex to AC. You would continue to make Acrobatics checks every round and each time you take damage.

draxar wrote:
You're not moving at full speed, so does that mean you're flat footed?

You're considered flat-footed the entire time you're on the Narrow Surface regardless of whether you move 5ft, 10ft, 15ft, or up to whatever half your move speed is.

draxar wrote:
Or can you choose to take the +5 DC and 5 foot step at 'full speed', step confidently (if riskily) and not be so open to attack?

If you're taking a 5ft step, then you are not moving "Full Speed". Full Speed would be 30ft per round (or 20ft for some races).

Acrobatics Modifiers: Move at full speed on narrow or uneven surfaces +5
^------- This means that you could cross a narrow surface at full speed (30ft), and if the narrow surface is 7-11 inches wide (normally a DC10 check), then it would become a DC15 check to move across this surface 30ft in a single round.

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You can take Ledge Walker if you want to avoid all this nonsense though. If you're planning on being a cat burglar-esque style of character, Ledge Walker is totally worth it.

Ledge Walker wrote:

Ledge Walker (Ex)

Benefit: This ability allows a rogue to move along narrow surfaces at full speed using the Acrobatics skill without penalty. In addition, a rogue with this talent is not flat-footed when using Acrobatics to move along narrow surfaces.

For clarity, I'm the GM, not a player.

Ryze Kuja wrote:
draxar wrote:
You're traversing a long narrow surface. It is not difficult terrain beyond its narrowness. If you're in combat, can you take a 5 foot step?
Yes, but once you've 5ft-stepped onto the Narrow Surface, you would need to make an Acrobatics Check and you'd be considered Flat-footed and lose your Dex to AC. You would continue to make Acrobatics checks every round and each time you take damage.

In this instance, they won't be taking the rolls when they take damage.

It's a specific space described in a module; from a practicality point of view, all the players need to get up there, and I don't want them to immediately jump to "Lets just fly!" as the first option (though they may give up and do that anyway) or have the combat very quickly switch to the ground below. (They're doing this mid-combat)

From a fluff point PoV, I'm going with "The thing they're crossing is actually a bit wider, but also smooth and ascending - it needs the balance to cross it, but there's slightly less risk of being knocked off" - I've also nixxed the idea of them falling off if they fall unconsious, because that'd lead to Dead PCs very, very easily.

Ryze Kuja wrote:

draxar wrote:
You're not moving at full speed, so does that mean you're flat footed?
You're considered flat-footed the entire time you're on the Narrow Surface regardless of whether you move 5ft, 10ft, 15ft, or up to whatever half your move speed is.

But if you move your full speed, you're not considered flat-footed. (Certainly in this specific situation; I'm not sure if that's a general rule, but it sounds like it is from what you're saying.)

Ryze Kuja wrote:

draxar wrote:
Or can you choose to take the +5 DC and 5 foot step at 'full speed', step confidently (if riskily) and not be so open to attack?

If you're taking a 5ft step, then you are not moving "Full Speed". Full Speed would be 30ft per round (or 20ft for some races).

Acrobatics Modifiers: Move at full speed on narrow or uneven surfaces +5
^------- This means that you could cross a narrow surface at full speed (30ft), and if the narrow surface is 7-11 inches wide (normally a DC10 check), then it would become a DC15 check to move across this surface 30ft in a single round.

To put it more clearly - if someone has a ton of acrobatics, and can easily make the higher DC, which would make them not flat footed is the fact that they don't have enough 'momentum', or just 'That's how the system works' the reason why they're still flatfooted?

Ryze Kuja wrote:

You can take Ledge Walker if you want to avoid all this nonsense though. If you're planning on being a cat burglar-esque style of character, Ledge Walker is totally worth it.

I'm aware of it. The big bad they're fighting has it. None of the PCs do.

I think that the text in the table on p. 89 of the CRB should be taken with a bit of caution, as it is a table with a short line of text.

It says:
Acrobatics Modifiers
Move at full speed on narrow or uneven surfaces +5*

And the check says:
Check: You can use Acrobatics to move on narrow surfaces and uneven ground without falling. A successful check allows you to move at half speed across
such surfaces—only one check is needed per round. Use the following table to determine the base DC, which is then modified by the Acrobatics skill modifiers noted on page 89.

"Allows you to move at half speed" doesn't force you into moving exactly half of your movement. You could move whatever distance you want. The check simply allows you move without falling.
You can take the check applying the +5, have a full move available, and instead move only 5' or 10'.

Sadly, other rules make what you want unfeasible:

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

A surface so narrow that it requires a skill check to navigate it should be considered difficult terrain, so it isn't possible to take a 5' step.

Then:

CRB-Acrobatics wrote:
While you are using Acrobatics in this way, you are considered flat-footed and lose your Dexterity bonus to your AC (if any). If you take damage while using Acrobatics, you must immediately make another Acrobatics check at the same DC to avoid falling or being knocked prone.

Being flat-footed is linked to the need to take the check, not to its difficulty.

The increased DC for moving at a higher speed doesn't say that it removes being flat-footed. So, it doesn't remove the penalty. It simply allows you to move faster.

You need some specific ability, like the one that Ryze Kuja posted, not to be flat-footed.
Note how Ledge walker says that you can move a full speed and, in addition you avoid being flat-footed. Two different effects.

Diego Rossi wrote:

Sadly, other rules make what you want unfeasible:

Quote:
You can only take a 5-foot-step if your movement isn’t hampered by difficult terrain or darkness.
A surface so narrow that it requires a skill check to navigate it should be considered difficult terrain, so it isn't possible to take a 5' step.

If it's difficult terrain, how are you able to move at full speed? The most you should be able to manage is half.

Diego Rossi wrote:

"Allows you to move at half speed" doesn't force you into moving exactly half of your movement. You could move whatever distance you want. The check simply allows you move without falling.
You can take the check applying the +5, have a full move available, and instead move only 5' or 10'.

So, yep, this is my feeling - this says that someone can go for the higher skill check and get that, and apply all the effects of that higher skill check to their 5 foot step. But Ryze Kuja disagrees, is of the opinion that if you're taking a 5 foot step you're definitionally taking the easier check.

Diego Rossi wrote:

Then:
CRB-Acrobatics wrote:
While you are using Acrobatics in this way, you are considered flat-footed and lose your Dexterity bonus to your AC (if any). If you take damage while using Acrobatics, you must immediately make another Acrobatics check at the same DC to avoid falling or being knocked prone.

Being flat-footed is linked to the need to take the check, not to its difficulty.

The increased DC for moving at a higher speed doesn't say that it removes being flat-footed. So, it doesn't remove the penalty. It simply allows you to move faster.

At the moment, the Rules I'm running with aren't the general rules, they're the ones from this specific module.

Module text:

Specific Challenge my players are up against:
The bridge is incredibly narrow, barely a foot across, and smoothed by winds and sand. Moving across the bridge requires a successful DC 10 Acrobatics to move at half speed without falling, or DC 15 to move at full speed. [blah blah, reflex saves]. Characters moving at half speed across the bridge are considered flat-footed and lose their Dexterity bonus to AC.

Now, I'm not sure whether the writer for this section failed to get the rules right, or decided to apply them differently, so as to not punish quite so heavily low acrobatics characters in a situation where the PCs don't have much choice but to cross. (There's other stuff they got wrong, so quite possibly them messing up - but that still includesthem failing to understand the difficulty of the situation).

I'm also wanting there to actually be this cool fight on the high bridges, or at least some prospect thereof, rather than just everyone down on the ground, or ignoring it via flight.

But it does create the situation where if they go for the higher check, they ain't flatfooted. And I'm thinking about how that interacts with 5 foot steps.

Taking a Move Action to move 5ft is much different than performing the "Miscellaneous Action" of a "5ft Step". You can't perform a 5ft Step in Difficult Terrain, but you can Move 5ft with a Move Action in Difficult Terrain (costs 10ft of Movement to move 5ft). But Difficult Terrain isn't at play here, so you can perform a 5ft Step on the Narrow Bridge if you want.

This Narrow Surface in your specific example is described as "barely a foot across" and they already chose the DC as 10, so we know this bridge is 7-11 inches wide.

So here's the player's choices (lets assume 30ft move speed and with no difficult terrain):

1) Take a 5ft Step as a Miscellaneous Action + Perform a Standard Action + Move Action (can't be used for movement though): Make a DC 10 Acrobatics check for the 5ft Step. You are Flat Footed.

2) Take a 5ft Step as a Miscellaneous Action + Perform a Full Round Action (such as a Full Attack): Make a DC 10 Acrobatics check for the 5ft Step. You are Flat Footed.

3) Perform a Standard Action + Move Action to Move half movement speed or less (5ft, 10ft, or 15ft): Make a DC 10 Acrobatics check for Moving Half Speed or less. You are Flat Footed.

4) Perform a Standard Action + Move Action to move more than half movement speed (20ft, 25ft, or 30ft): Make a DC 15 Acrobatics check for Moving up to your Full Speed. You are not Flat Footed. (<--- this rule is poorly written, because you should probably still be considered Flat Footed even while moving at Full Speed**).

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**The difference between someone who has Ledge Walker vs. someone who is trained in Acrobatics irl is about the same difference as a professional Parkour Expert, a Gymnast, or a Circus Tight-rope Walker (Ledge Walkers irl) vs. someone who went to Boot Camp and ran the Confidence Course (Trained in Acrobatics irl). I am ex-military and I can tell you from experience that someone who is moderately trained in Acrobatics (any typical soldier) is most definitely flat-footed, and we're going through that Confidence Course as fast as we possibly can because they time us; you only have about 10-20 seconds depending on the obstacle. But if someone were to swing a weapon at me or shoot an arrow at me even if I'm going my full speed over an obstacle with a narrow surface, there's no way I would be able to Dodge or use my Dexterity to get out of the way. A Parkour Expert, Gymnast, or Tight-rope Walker could though.

Where does it say that? Currently I see one person saying that you can make a higher DC roll even when moving 10 or 15 feet, and one person saying you can't.

So there's no clear consensus; I'm currently leaning towards "You can roll DC15 for it if you want to not be flat footed.

With regards the 'they should be flat-footed anyway' - there's a few possibilities.

The writer of this module has transcribed the rules across badly, but did intend it to be as tough as the full rules for acrobatics, complete with 'always flatfooted' and 'roll to not fall over when hit'

The writer used those rules as a starting point, but toned them down, went their own way, in order to have a situation where a party with people that aren't so great at acrobatics don't just ignore the Epic Bridge Crossing and Combat and fly up.

The writer probably should have written something different.

Spoiler:
Surface Width Base Acrobatics DC
Greater than 3 feet wide 0*
1–3 feet wide 5*
7–11 inches wide 10

"barely a foot across," normally mean something slightly larger than 1' and wouldn't require a check.
It has a DC of 10, which is higher than that for a 1' bridge, but it is "smoothed by winds and sand", so apparently that increase the DC.

That can explain why it doesn't follow the normal rules.

"move at half speed" isn't "move exactly half of your speed", it is "move up to half of your speed", the same thing for "move at full speed".
The character making the higher DC check can move his full movement at full speed, or move only 5', 10', 15', 20', or 25' at full speed.

As he needs to make a check to avoid being flatfooted, the terrain isn't normal, so I would consider it difficult terrain and will not allow him to take a 5' step.

If the encounter is the one I think, good luck to the players. She got a critical hit on my character with her first attack. Instant death.

Cross Narrow Surfaces/Uneven Ground wrote:

First, you can use Acrobatics to move on narrow surfaces and uneven ground without falling. A successful check allows you to move at half speed across such surfaces—only one check is needed per round. Use the following table to determine the base DC, which is then modified by the Acrobatics skill modifiers noted below. While you are using Acrobatics in this way, you are considered flat-footed and lose your Dexterity bonus to your AC (if any). If you take damage while using Acrobatics, you must immediately make another Acrobatics check at the same DC to avoid falling or being knocked prone.

Table: Acrobatics DC’s to Cross Narrow Surfaces Surface Width Base Acrobatics DC
Greater than 3 feet wide 01
1–3 feet wide 51
7–11 inches wide 10
2–6 inches wide 15
Less than 2 inches wide 20

Miscellaneous Acrobatics Modifiers wrote:

Table: Misc. Acrobatics Modifiers Acrobatics Modifiers DC Modifier
Lightly Obstructed (gravel, sand) +2
Severely Obstructed (cavern, rubble) +5
Slightly Slippery (wet) +2
Severely Slippery (icy) +5
Slightly Sloped (<45°) +2
Severely Sloped (>45°) +5
Slightly Unsteady (boat in rough water) +2
Mildly Unsteady (boat in a storm) +5
Move at full speed on narrow or uneven surfaces +5

I was just re-reading through these rules and I'm going to retract my previous statement about not being Flat-footed while moving at full speed.

You're actually considered Flat-footed at all times while traversing the Narrow Surface or Uneven Ground, and you're allowed to cross the surface at half speed if you pass the base DC check. If you'd like to cross it at full speed, then you apply the Miscellaneous Modifier of +5 to the DC, but you're still flat-footed.

If you don't want to be Flat-footed, then get Ledge Walker. Otherwise, you're flat-footed the entire time you're on the narrow surface, regardless of the speed you cross it.

Tbh, this rule would be much less confusing if they just rearranged the sentences of the paragraph to this order:

Quote:
First, you can use Acrobatics to move on narrow surfaces and uneven ground without falling. While you are using Acrobatics in this way, you are considered flat-footed and lose your Dexterity bonus to your AC (if any). A successful check allows you to move at half speed across such surfaces—only one check is needed per round. Use the following table to determine the base DC, which is then modified by the Acrobatics skill modifiers noted below. If you take damage while using Acrobatics, you must immediately make another Acrobatics check at the same DC to avoid falling or being knocked prone.
Quote:

Table: Misc. Acrobatics Modifiers Acrobatics Modifiers DC Modifier

Move at full speed on narrow or uneven surfaces +5