Athletics

Athletics is a movement skill. It allows you to ascend surfaces, swim through waters, or swing through a jungle on vines that would otherwise block you. Those with a lot of skill in Athletics can even climb walls of force or swim against tsunamis and in other conditions that have no terrestrial analogue.

Key Attribute: Constitution
Racial Skill for: Fera
Class Skill for: Aspirant, Brawler, Explorer, Gladiator, Marksman, Scoundrel, Sentinel, Zealot

Base DCs and Check Modifiers

Climbing
Climbing Surfaces Example DC
Surface with hand and foot holds Very rough rocks; ship’s rigging; surface with pitons or carved holes 10
Knotted rope Standard rope with knots in it (not attached to most grappling hooks) 10
Unknotted rope Standard rope (attached to most grappling hooks), sufficiently long hair 15
Hanging cloth Tapestry, curtain, giant clothing 20
Uneven surface with narrow holds Typical dungeon or ruin walls, brick buildings 20
Rough surface with no regular holds Natural, smooth weathered rock, maximum climb DC of Wall of Stone 25
Perfectly smooth, flat surface Wall of force 30
Climbing Circumstances Example DC Modifier*
Climbing an Inclined Surface Any slope between 45 and 60 degrees -5
Climbing a Vertical Surface Any slope between 61 and 120 degrees +0
Climbing an Overhanging Surface Any slope between 121 and 180 degrees +5
Climbing a Chimney Setup There is another wall to brace against within reach of your legs that is parallel to the one you are climbing (or your rope) -5
Climbing a Corner Setup There is another wall to brace against within reach of your legs that is perpendicular to the one you are climbing -2
Climbing Surface Slightly Slippery Frozen ice without gloves, a wall damp with morning dew +2
Climbing Surface Very Slippery A wall covered in oil, rigging of a ship while it is raining +5
* Do not stack circumstance modifiers arising from similar circumstances, like both slightly and very slippery. Simply use the most appropriate one.
Swimming
Swimming Conditions Example DC
Calm Placid lake, calm sea, acid pool at the bottom of a trap 10
Rough Average river, choppy sea, lava flow down a mountain 15
Stormy Fast moving river, stormy sea, quicksilver flood in dungeon 20
Hurricane Sea in a hurricane, raging river in a large storm 25
Tsunami 50’+ speeding waves, flash floods 30
Unthinkable The worst roil, chop, and current imaginable, up a waterfall 35
Swimming Circumstances Example DC Modifier
Particularly dense “liquid” Lava, mercury, gold coins -3
Particularly thin “liquid” Feathers +3
General
General Circumstances Example Check Modifier
One (or more) extra hand free Climbing/swimming with both hands if you have Ein Hander +5
One necessary hand full* Climbing/swimming while carrying a sword or shield -3
One necessary hand performing another action* Making an attack or casting a spell while climbing/swimming -5
Fatigued -2
Exhausted -5
* These are cumulative for each hand less than needed, but only apply one modifier for any given hand.

Untrained Uses

Catch Passing Surface

Sometimes you don’t quite make the jump, and you need to grab on to the wall you’re falling by before you hit the bottom. Or perhaps you really want to grab on to a passing dragon while it flies overhead. You can do both of these things, and then depend on your climbing skills to carry you further.

Catching yourself while falling past a surface is difficult, though it is a free action useable once per round. The DC to catch yourself while falling past a wall or sliding down a slope is the surface’s DC. You may also attempt to grab a creature or object moving falling past you while you are climbing on a surface. You must first succeed on a successful touch attack, and then make a check against the appropriate DC above. The results of either action are listed in the table below. You can only grab surfaces you can climb, and you must use both hands or suffer the appropriate penalties.

Base DC: Surface DC + circumstances.
Check Result:

  • DC+0 and above: If you are falling or sliding past a surface, you are able to grab on and end your fall. If you are attached to a surface, you can successfully hold on while grabbing the targer.
  • DC-1 to DC-5: You thought you had a good hold, but were wrong. You slow your descent, but fall 2d6 x 10 feet before you can make another attempt to grab the surface. If you are attached to a surface, you grab the target but fail to hold them. They may make another check after falling 2d6 x 10 feet.
  • DC-6 and below: You fail to even slow your descent past the surface, and fall all the way to the bottom. If you are attached to the surface, you fail to grab the target and must immediately make a check as if you had taken damage in excess of twice your ranks in Athletics.
Climb and Hang

Walls and barriers are meant to be overcome, and it’s often easier to climb over, along, or around it than it would be to smash it down. You can move up, down, across, or even just cling desperately to a slope (an inclined surface of 46 to 60 degrees), a wall (an inclined surface of 61 to 120 degrees), or overhang (an inclined surface of 121 to 180 degrees). However, you can’t climb surfaces with a DC greater than 15 without actual ranks in Athletics; if you attempt to do so, you make no progress and lose a move action.

You must spend a move action and roll an Athletics check each round you are climbing or hanging onto a surface, even if you don’t want to go anywhere. The DC for this check is found on the tables above, and your rate of progress is determined by your check result. If you elect to take a second move in the same round, you may use your initial check result or make a new check, as you prefer. Note that the penalties for failing a climb check involve falling, possibly far. This is why most climbers secure themselves with ropes and pitons.

Climbing properly requires full use of all your limbs. You can attempt to climb with only one (or even no) free hand, in order to be able to use that limb for another action (or gain a benefit from a carried item, like a shield), but you take the appropriate penalty on your check. If you don’t take the penalty, then that arm is unavailable for any other action or benefit that round. Simply carrying or wielding an item, without actually benefiting from it, results in a lesser penalty.

You are considered flat-footed while climbing, and cannot charge or take flat-out actions like running. If you take damage exceeding twice your Athletics ranks while holding on to a surface, any movement you’re making ends and you must immediately make a new check against the surface’s DC. Unlike the standard check, if you do not succeed on this check by matching or exceeding the DC, you fall immediately from the space you took the damage.

Long-term climbing is very difficult if the conditions are too difficult for you to take 10 on the check; the likelihood of failing and falling to the bottom in as short a period as one minute is simply too high. If you can take 10, you probably won’t fall off if you’re not attacked, but you run the risk of fatigue instead. Each round of climbing is treated as a round of hustling. Furthermore, unless you reach an area that you can sit comfortably or secure yourself to the side of the surface with rope and pitons, you cannot rest while climbing. Because of this, your greatest enemy while climbing a surface that isn’t particularly difficult is time. See the revised movement and fatigue rules for more information.

Special: Creatures with a climb speed do not need to make checks to move up, down, or across an inclined surface, always move their full climb speed as a move action, and are not flatfooted while climbing. They may charge while climbing and climb as part of a run action. Climbing is no more tiring than walking for these creatures, and they may rest at any time while climbing a surface. Unless otherwise noted in their description, they may use a limb for both movement and attacking in the same round, though they may not perform a charge with a limb used for movement. A creature with a climb speed must still make a check to remain on the surface if they suffer damage greater than twice their ranks in Athletics, however. They are always considered to have ranks in Athletics equal to their CR for the purposes of climbing and skill abilities that affect climbing only; these ranks do not stack with any actual ranks in Athletics. These virtual ranks may also be used to avoid special hazards or perform special maneuvers, if necessary.

Base DC: Surface DC + circumstances.
Check Result:

  • DC+10 and above: As a move action, you climb up to your full base speed. You may use a second move action this round to proceed at the same pace without an additional check.
  • DC+5 to DC+9: As a move action, you climb up to one half of your base speed, rounded down to the nearest 5’ increment. You may use a second move action this round to proceed at the same pace without an additional check.
  • DC+0 to DC+4: As a move action, you climb up to one quarter of your base speed, rounded down to the nearest 5’ increment. You may use a second move action this round to proceed at the same pace without an additional check.
  • DC-1 to DC-5: You spend a move action attempting to make progress up the surface, but fail to do so. You just can’t quite find places to grip to move ahead. If you made this check in response to taking damage in excess of twice your Athletics ranks, you begin falling.
  • DC-6 and below: You thought you had a good hold, but were very wrong. You lose your hold of the surface, and begin falling. You fall 2d6 x 10 feet before you can make an attempt to grab the surface.
Swim

Sometimes the moat is too wide or you’ve walked the plank, and water is just one more obstacle to overcome. The swim ability is used to traverse liquids you can’t generally walk on or need to dive into, like water, acid, lava, and other fun things. However, you can’t swim in conditions with a DC greater than 15 without actual ranks in Athletics; if you attempt to do so, you make no progress and lose a move action.

You must roll an Athletics check each round that you are suspended in liquid, even if you don’t want to go anywhere. The DC for this check is found in the tables above. Your check result determines how quickly you move through the liquid with a move action, or which action you must spend to tread water and remain afloat. If you elect to take a second move in the same round, you may use your initial check result or make a new check, as you prefer. You must either spend the move action to traverse the liquid or the indicated action to tread water, or you fail to keep your head “above water” and may begin drowning even if you don’t sink into the liquid. This is the same penalty as if you had simply failed your check.

Swimming properly requires full use of all your limbs. You can attempt to swim with only one (or even no) free hand, in order to be able to use that limb for another action (or gain a benefit from a carried item, like a shield), but you take the appropriate penalty on your check. If you don’t take the penalty, then that arm is unavailable for any other action or benefit that round. Simply carrying or wielding an item, without actually benefiting from it, results in a lesser penalty.

You are considered flat-footed while swimming, and cannot charge or take flat-out actions (such as running). If you take damage exceeding twice your Athletics ranks while swimming, you must immediately make a new check against the current DC. Unlike the standard check, if you do not succeed on this check by matching or exceeding the DC, your movement ends and you lose the ability to keep your head “above water” for the round.

Long-term swimming is very difficult if the conditions are too difficult for you to take 10 on the check; the likelihood of failing and drowning in as short a period as one minute is simply too high. If you can take 10, you probably won’t drown if you’re not attacked, but instead you run the risk of fatigue. Each round of swimming is treated as a round of hustling. Unless you are skilled enough to tread water as a free action in the conditions, you can not rest while swimming. Because of this, your greatest enemy in the water is time. See the revised movement and fatigue rules for more information.

Special: Creatures with a swim speed do not need to make checks to swim in a liquid, always move their full swim speed as a move action, and are not flatfooted while swimming. They may charge while swimming and swim as part of a run action. Swimming is no more tiring than walking for these creatures, and they may rest at any time while floating within a liquid. Unless otherwise noted in their description, they may use a limb for both movement and attacking in the same round, though they may not perform a charge with a limb used for movement. A creature with a swim speed must still make a check to remain on the surface if they suffer damage greater than twice their ranks in Athletics, however. They are always considered to have ranks in Athletics equal to their CR for the purposes of swimming and skill abilities that affect swimming only; these ranks do not stack with any actual ranks in Athletics. These virtual ranks may also be used to avoid special hazards or perform special maneuvers, if necessary.

Base DC: Condition DC + circumstances.
Check Result:

  • DC+10 and above: As a move action, you move up to your base speed through the liquid.
    You may tread water as a free action, which also allows you to rest if you’re so inclined.
  • DC+5 to DC+9: As a move action, you move up to one half of your base speed through the liquid. You may tread water as a free action, which also allows you to rest if you’re so inclined.
  • DC+0 to DC+4: As a move action, you move up to one quarter of your base speed through the liquid. You may tread water as a swift action.
  • DC-1 to DC-5: As a move action you can tread water. You don’t make any progress, but you don’t lose any either. If you made this check in response to taking damage in excess of your athletics ranks, treat this result as if you had rolled the worse result below.
  • DC-6 and below: You fail to stay at your current level in the liquid and begin to sink; if you were on the surface you probably have to hold your breath to avoid drowning. Good luck with the fishes.

Rank 4 Uses

Brachiation

There are lots of places where it’s easier to swing around instead of walk. Swinging by your arms and occasional leg, you can move through tree branches, jungle vines, banquet hall chandeliers, complex monkey bars, etc. at half of your base land speed. This is considered a natural base speed, so you can run and charge at no penalty, but you need both of your arms free to assist your movement. If one hand is full, you still brachiate at half your base land speed, but can only do this for a single move action in a round. While brachiating, you may only enter spaces within a range equal to your natural reach plus one-half the height of the object you are hanging from that also contain an object from which you could hang. All swinging movement made during a single action must be made in the same direction.

Trained Mover
Now that you have some practice under your belt, you can climb on surfaces and swim in conditions with a DC of 20 or less. You may also take a flat-out action similar to a run while climbing and swimming. When doing so, you make two checks for the round, using the better result, and also quadruple the speed at which you would move based on your check result. This ability otherwise functions as Climb and Hang or Swim, as appropriate.

Rank 6 Uses

Combat Athlete

You’re getting the hang of moving in different ways, even while people try to fill you with arrows or spears or whatever. You can climb on surfaces and swim in conditions with a DC of 25 or less, and are no longer flat-footed while climbing or swimming. Additionally, you can steady yourself or tread water with one limb while using the other for making attacks or spellcasting. This allows you to leave that hand free while making your climb or swim check at no penalty; however, if you do so, you can make no progress that round. Finally, you can charge while climbing or swimming, though you can’t make an attack with a hand unless you took the appropriate penalty on your check. This ability otherwise functions as Climb and Hang or Swim, as appropriate.

Rank 8 Uses

Ein Hander

All that training has payed off. You can now climb on surfaces and swim in conditions with a DC of up to 30. Furthermore, you only need one hand free to climb or swim without penalty, and can do or carry whatever you’d like with the other. Even if both hands are full or occupied, you only suffer penalties for one hand. Just because you only need one hand free to climb or swim doesn’t mean you should only keep one hand free, however. If you climb or swim with both hands free and empty, you gain a +5 bonus to your check. This ability otherwise functions as Climb and Hang or Swim, as appropriate.

Fleet of Arm

You’ve got some nice coordination and muscle strength. Your swinging speed is now equal to your land speed, and you can still also brachiate with one hand full at half your base speed. You can also change direction at will while swinging. This ability otherwise functions as, and effectively replaces, Brachiation.

Rank 10 Uses

Nein Hander

You are amazingly proficient at kicking yourself through liquids and up walls. Not only can you climb on any surfaces and swim in any conditions, regardless of the DC, but you can do it entirely without using your hands, freeing them up for you to do as you please without penalty. If you do have at least one hand clear and empty to assist you, though, you get a +5 bonus to your check. This ability otherwise functions as Climb and Hang or Swim, as appropriate.

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Athletics

Fading Embers Sasaisen