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Exploration



Source: Paizo Blog, Paizo Publishing, LLC

Exploring the game world happens at a very different pace than combat. Entire days might pass in seconds of real time as you and your group of adventurers travel from one city to the next, but you may spend an hour in real time negotiating with the head of the thieves’ guild to free a kidnapped prince. The pace of the game is decided by the Game Master, but it is influenced by your decisions.

For example, while you are traveling through the wilderness, the GM describes a crumbling tower ahead. You might decide to sneak up to the tower, in which case the GM will have you use the Stealth skill. Or you might spy on it to see if it is occupied, and the GM will have you use the Perception skill. Or you might walk right up to it, only to have a giant spider jump out, in which case the GM starts combat. All of these outcomes are very different from one another. Which one occurs depends upon your decisions and the skills of your character and your allies.

ENCOUNTERS

While playing your character, you’ll have many encounters. Encounters are individual “scenes,” decided by the Game Master and your actions. An encounter might be an argument with the owner of a local shop, a chase through a haunted forest, or an attempt to rescue a villager from a burning building. Encounters can be solved through skill checks, investigating clues, or combat (described later in this chapter). How an encounter is resolved often depends upon the decisions you make for your character.

MAKING CHECKS

You use the dice to see if your character succeeds or fails at a task. Many of the rolls you’ll have to make are called “checks.” For example, the GM might say “make a Strength check” or “make a Climb check.” Each of these checks works the same way. When the GM tells you to make a check, do this: Roll 1d20 + character bonuses + modifiers from the GM Add those numbers together. The higher the total, the better you did. Meanwhile, the GM secretly figures out a Difficulty Class (DC) for your check. If the result of your check is equal to or greater than the DC, then you succeed at the check. If the result is less than the DC, you fail. The character bonuses depend on what type of check the GM wants you to do:

SKILL CHECK

When making a skill check, add your total number of ranks from the skill, the ability score modifier used by the skill (like your STR Mod for Climb), and any other associated bonuses your character has from feats, race, or class (add these up on your character sheet ahead of time). The DCs for common uses of skills are listed in the Skills section earlier in this book.

ABILITY CHECK

In an ability check, you just add one of your ability modifiers. You use ability checks when there’s no skill that covers what you want to do. For example, you might be asked to make a STR check when attempting to break down a door.

OVERLAND MOVEMENT

Outside of combat, you can move about without having to worry too much about your speed. If how fast you move is important to the story, here’s how fast you normally travel: Unarmored human or elf 3 miles per hour Human or elf in medium or heavy armor 2 miles per hour Dwarf 2 miles per hour Character riding a horse 5 miles per hour You can move at these speeds for up to 8 hours each day. Moving more than 8 hours in this way tires you out and deals 1d6 points of damage to you for every hour after those first 8 hours. You can choose to “hustle” at double this speed, but only for one hour. After one hour of hustling, you take 1 point of damage and you’re fatigued. Each hour after that, you take 2 points of damage. These speeds are for moving down a road or well-worn path. Moving through the wilderness or swamps can reduce your speed by up to half. Your GM will tell you when the terrain reduces your speed. Movement in combat works a little differently. See MoveActions for more information.

LIGHT

Your adventures will often take you into crumbling caves, filthy sewers, and deadly dungeons, all of which are usually dark. Having a simple light, such as a torch or a light spell, can make all the difference. To keep things simple, there are four different light levels commonly used in the game.

BRIGHT LIGHT

Everyone can see in this light. Creatures that are sensitive to light take penalties in areas this bright. Examples of bright light include direct sunlight and inside the area of a daylight spell.

NORMAL LIGHT

This is the average level of light. Everyone can see in this light. Examples of this light include sunlight under a tree, torches, lanterns, and the light spell.

DIM LIGHT

This is a gloomy sort of light. Dwarves and other creatures with darkvision can see normally in dim light. Other creatures can see, but not clearly; when they make attacks in dim light, there’s a greater chance they’ll miss (see Concealment). Examples include moonlight and candlelight.

DARKNESS

This is total darkness. Dwarves and other creatures with darkvision can see normally in darkness. Creatures without darkvision can’t see at all. If you can’t see in darkness, when you make an attack roll there is a 50% chance the attack misses (01–50 on d%), even if the attack roll would normally hit. Examples of darkness include dungeons, caves, and areas of magical darkness (like from a darkness spell).

LIGHT SOURCES

Light sources give off light in a specific radius. For example, a torch gives off normal light in a 20-foot radius. Each light source lists the range and light level that it provides. If you have low-light vision (as elves do) you can see as if this radius were doubled. For example, if you’re an elf, you can see normally within 40 feet of a torch.

ENVIRONMENTS


When exploring, there are many kinds of environments you are likely to encounter, from haunted forests to deadly dungeons and crowded cities. Each environment comes with its own unique challenges and encounters. Your Game Master has most of the details about these environments, but here are the basics that you should know.

DUNGEON

A “dungeon” is any series of rooms or chambers, such as a sewer, cave, crypt, temple, or even an actual dungeon. When exploring a dungeon, you may encounter traps. Traps are mechanical or magical devices that activate when you come near and do damage or cause some other effect. For example, the most common trap is a pit trap. If you walk on a pit trap, it opens and you fall to the pit’s bottom, taking damage. You can use the Perception skill to find traps and the Disable Device skill to disarm them before they are triggered. You may discover hazards like locked doors, water-filled chambers, and deadly fungi while exploring dungeons, as well as combat encounters with the monsters that live there.

WILDERNESS

The wilderness is all the other parts of the world—forests, deserts, mountains, oceans, and so on. You travel through the wilderness while making your way to the next adventure. Many kinds of monsters live in the wilderness, from hungry werewolves to giant spiders. The wilderness also contains natural hazards like quicksand, freezing cold, and the scorching sun. It’s safer to follow the road when traveling through the wilderness, but some places have no roads, and heroes don’t always play it safe.

CITY

Cities are places where people live, ranging from tiny communities of just a few houses to vast, walled towns. In cities you can buy new gear, sell treasure, and rest from your previous adventures. Cities are not without danger. Thieves lurk in the shadows, and sometimes the sewers are filled with monsters. Evil clerics hide in ancient vaults, worshiping vile gods, while cruel wizards plot and scheme. Despite these dangers, the city is a safe place for the most part, but you never know where adventure might be found.

TIME PASSES

You don’t have to be in combat to use your character’s abilities. If you want to cast one of your prepared spells, you can at any time—many spells have long durations because you probably cast them long before combat starts. If you want to draw a weapon, or use your channel energy ability to heal someone, eat dinner, search for a trap, you can do it in exploration mode—you don’t have to be in combat mode.