Athletics

(Str; Armor Check Penalty)
Athletics combines three primary abilities. The ability to climb surfaces, the ability to jump hazards, and the ability to swim.

Climbing Check: You are skilled at scaling vertical surfaces, from smooth city walls to rocky cliffs. With a successful Athletics check, you can advance up, down, or across a slope, wall, or other steep incline (or even across a ceiling, provided it has handholds) at one-quarter your normal speed. A slope is considered to be any incline at an angle measuring less than 60 degrees; a wall is any incline at an angle measuring 60 degrees or more.

An Athletics check that fails by 4 or less means that you make no progress, and one that fails by 5 or more means that you fall from whatever height you have already attained.

The DC of the check depends on the conditions of the climb. Compare the task with those on the following table to determine an appropriate DC.

Example Surface or Activity Athletics DC
A slope too steep to walk up, or a knotted rope with a wall to brace against. 0
A rope with a wall to brace against, or a knotted rope, or a rope affected by the rope trick spell. 5
A surface with ledges to hold on to and stand on, such as a very rough wall or a ship’s rigging. 10
Any surface with adequate handholds and footholds (natural or artificial), such as a very rough natural rock surface or a tree, or an unknotted rope, or pulling yourself up when dangling by your hands. 15
An uneven surface with narrow handholds and footholds, such as a typical wall in a dungeon. 20
A rough surface, such as a natural rock wall or a brick wall. 25
An overhang or ceiling with handholds only. 30
A perfectly smooth, flat vertical (or inverted) surface cannot be climbed.
Example Surface or Activity Athletics DC Modifier*
Climbing a chimney (artificial or natural) or other location where you can brace against two opposite walls. -10
Climbing a corner where you can brace against perpendicular walls. –5
Surface is slippery. +5

* These modifiers are cumulative; use all that apply.

You need both hands free to climb, but you may cling to a wall with one hand while you cast a spell or take some other action that requires only one hand. While climbing, you can’t move to avoid a blow, so you lose your Dexterity bonus to AC (if any). You also can’t use a shield while climbing. Anytime you take damage while climbing, make a Athletics check against the DC of the slope or wall. Failure means you fall from your current height and sustain the appropriate falling damage.

Accelerated Climbing: You try to climb more quickly than normal. By accepting a –5 penalty, you can move half your speed (instead of one-quarter your speed).

Make Your Own Handholds and Footholds: You can make your own handholds and footholds by pounding pitons into a wall. Doing so takes 1 minute per piton, and one piton is needed per 5 feet of distance. As with any surface that offers handholds and footholds, a wall with pitons in it has a DC of 15. In the same way, a climber with a handaxe or similar implement can cut handholds in an ice wall.

Catch Yourself When Falling: It’s practically impossible to catch yourself on a wall while falling, yet if you wish to attempt such a difficult task, you can make a Athletics check (DC = wall’s DC + 20) to do so. It’s much easier to catch yourself on a slope (DC = slope’s DC + 10).

Catch a Falling Character While Climbing: If someone climbing above you or adjacent to you falls, you can attempt to catch the falling character if he or she is within your reach. Doing so requires a successful attack roll against the falling character’s flat-footed AC. If you hit, you must immediately attempt a Athletics check (DC = wall’s DC + 10). Success indicates that you catch the falling character, but his total weight, including equipment, cannot exceed your heavy load limit or you automatically fall. If you fail your Athletics check by 4 or less, you fail to stop the character’s fall but don’t lose your grip on the wall. If you fail by 5 or more, you fail to stop the character’s fall and begin falling as well.

Jump Check: You can use the Athletics skill to make jumps. The base DC to make a jump is equal to the distance to be crossed (if horizontal) or four times the height to be reached (if vertical). These DCs double if you do not have at least 10 feet of space to get a running start. If you fail this check by 4 or less, you can attempt a DC 20 Reflex save to grab hold of the other side after having missed the jump. If you fail by 5 or more, you fail to make the jump and fall (or land prone, in the case of a vertical jump). Creatures with a base land speed above 30 feet receive a +4 racial bonus on Athletics checks made to jump for every 10 feet of their speed above 30 feet. Creatures with a base land speed below 30 feet receive a –4 racial bonus on Athletics checks made to jump for every 10 feet of their speed below 30 feet. No jump can allow you to exceed your maximum movement for the round. For a running jump, the result of your Athletics check indicates the distance traveled in the jump (and if the check fails, the distance at which you actually land and fall prone). Halve this result for a standing long jump to determine where you land.

Long Jump Athletics DC
5 feet 5
10 feet 10
15 feet 15
20 feet 20
Greater than 20 feet +5 per 5 feet
High Jump Athletics DC
1 foot 4
2 feet 8
3 feet 12
4 feet 16
Greater than 4 feet +4 per foot

Swim Check: Make an Athletics check once per round while you are in the water. Success means you may swim at up to half your speed (as a full-round action) or at a quarter of your speed (as a move action). If you fail by 4 or less, you make no progress. If you fail by 5 or more, you go underwater.

If you are underwater, either because you failed a Athletics check or because you are swimming underwater intentionally, you must hold your breath. You can hold your breath for a number of rounds equal to twice your Constitution score, but only if you do nothing other than take move actions or free actions. If you take a standard action or a full-round action (such as making an attack), the remainder of the duration for which you can hold your breath is reduced by 1 round. (Effectively, a character in combat can hold his breath only half as long as normal.) After that period of time, you must make a DC 10 Constitution check every round to continue holding your breath. Each round, the DC for that check increases by 1. If you fail the Constitution check, you begin to drown. The DC for the Swim check depends on the water, as given on the table below.

Water Swim DC
Calm water 10
Rough water 15
Stormy water 20*

* You can’t take 10 on a Swim check in stormy water, even if you aren’t otherwise being threatened or distracted.

Each hour that you swim, you must make a DC 20 Athletics check or take 1d6 points of nonlethal damage from fatigue.

Action: Athletics is part of movement, so it’s generally part of a move action (and may be combined with other types of movement in a move action). Each move action that includes any climbing, jumping, or swimming requires a separate Athletics check. Catching yourself or another falling character doesn’t take an action.

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