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Pathfinder Reference Document
Pathfinder Reference Document

Athletics (Str; Armor Check Penalty)

You are skilled at deeds of physical prowess such as leaping, scaling walls, and swimming. Raw lifting ability uses a Strength check rather than an Athletics check.

Functions: Catch, climb, jump, swim.

Core Skills: Acrobatics (jumping only), Climb, Swim.


You can attempt an Athletics check to catch yourself while falling along a wall or slope. The DC is equal to the wall's climb DC + 20 or the slope's climb DC + 10 (see Climb, below).

To catch another character that falls while within your reach, you must succeed at a melee touch attack (the target can forgo her Dexterity bonus to AC). If you hit, you then attempt an Athletics check with a DC equal to the wall's climb DC + 10. If you succeed, you catch the falling character, but if her total weight (with equipment) exceeds your heavy load limit, you fall. If you fail by 4 or less, you don't stop the character's fall but don't lose your grip. If you fail by 5 or more, you fail to stop her fall and you begin falling as well.

Action: None.


Using Athletics, you can advance up, down, or across a slope, wall, or other steep incline (or a ceiling if it has handholds). You move at one-quarter your speed, though you can move at half your speed if you take a –5 penalty. If you fail the check by 4 or less, you make no progress. If you fail by 5 or more, you fall. A perfectly smooth vertical (or inverted) surface can't be climbed.

You need both hands free to climb, but can cling with one hand while using the other to cast a spell or take some other action. You can't use a shield while climbing. You lose your Dexterity bonus to AC while climbing. If you take damage while climbing, you must succeed at an Athletics check against the DC of the surface or fall.

Surface or Activity Athletics DC
Slope too steep to walk up0
Knotted rope with a wall to brace against0
Knotted rope or rope affected by rope trick5
Rope with a wall to brace against5
Surface with ledges to hold on to or stand on10
Pull yourself up when dangling15
Surface with handholds and footholds15
Unknotted rope15
Uneven surface with handholds (dungeon wall)20
Rough surface (natural rock or brick wall)25
Overhang or ceiling with handholds only30

Climbing Modifiers: The circumstances listed on the table modify Athletics DCs. They stack with each other.

Climbing Circumstances Athletics DC Modifier
Bracing against two opposite walls (chimney)–10
Bracing against perpendicular walls (corner)–5
Surface is slippery+5

Action: None. Each move action you take requires a separate Athletics check.

Making Handholds and Footholds: You can pound pitons into a wall to change the wall's base DC to 15. This takes 1 minute per piton, and one piton is needed per 5 feet of distance. You can cut your own handholds into an ice wall for the same purpose if you have a handaxe or similar implement.

Climb Speeds: A creature with a climb speed gains a +8 racial bonus on Athletics checks to climb. See the Core Rulebook for more information on climb speeds.

Hauling: You can haul a character up or down on a rope by sheer strength so that character doesn't need to attempt Athletics checks. You can lift double your maximum load in this manner.


You can make jumps using Athletics. The DC is equal to the distance crossed (in feet) for a long jump or four times the height to be reached (in feet) for a high jump. If you don't have a running start of at least 10 feet, double the DC. If you fail an Athletics check to jump across a horizontal gap by 4 or less, you can attempt a DC 20 Reflex save to grab hold of the other side. If you fail by 5 or more, you fall (or land prone if you were attempting a high jump).

The DC for a jump uses the same modifiers as the DC of an Acrobatics check, depending on the surface from which you're jumping. For example, the DC for a jump that begins on a sandy surface would increase by 2.

You can't exceed your maximum movement for a round by jumping.

Long Jump Athletics DC
5 feet5
10 feet10
15 feet15
Greater than 15 feet+5 per 5 feet
High Jump Athletics DC
1 foot4
2 feet8
3 feet12
4 feet16
Greater than 4 feet+4 per foot

Action: None.

Acrobatics: You can attempt to use Acrobatics instead of Athletics to jump, at a –5 penalty.

Speed Bonus: If your base land speed is 40 feet or more, you gain a +4 racial bonus on Athletics checks to jump for every 10 feet by which your base land speed exceeds 30 feet. Likewise, you take a –4 racial penalty for every 10 feet your speed is below 30 feet.


A successful Athletics check while you're in the water allows you to swim at either half your speed as a full-round action or one-quarter 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. Attempt one Athletics check to swim each round.

Water Athletics DC
Calm water10
Rough water15
Stormy water20*
* You can't take 10 on an Athletics check to swim in stormy water.

Action: Move action at one-quarter your speed or full-round action at half your speed.

Holding Your Breath: When you're underwater, you can hold your breath for a number of rounds equal to twice your Constitution score. If you take a standard or full-round action, reduce the duration you can continue to hold your breath by 1 round. After you run out of rounds, you must succeed at a DC 10 Constitution check each round or begin to drown. Each round, the DC to resist drowning increases by 1. See the Core Rulebook for the complete rules on drowning.

Extended Swimming: Each hour you swim, you must succeed at a DC 20 Swim check or take 1d6 points of nonlethal damage.

Swim Speeds: A creature with a swim speed gains a +8 racial bonus on Athletics checks to swim. See the Core Rulebook for more information on swim speeds.