Swimming across a rushing river, sneaking down a dungeon corridor, scaling a treacherous mountain slope~ all sorts of movement play a key role in D&D adventures.
The DM can summarize the adventurers’ movement without calculating exact distances or travel times: “You travel through the forest and find the dungeon entrance late in the evening of the third day.” Even in a dungeon, particularly a large dungeon or a cave network, the DM can summarize movement between encounters: “After killing the guardian at the entrance to the ancient dwarven stronghold. you consult your map, which leads you through miles of echoing corridors to a chasm bridged by a narrow stone arch.”
Sometimes it’s important, though, to know how long it takes to get from one spot to another, whether the answer is in days, hours, or minutes. The rules for determining travel time depend on two factors: the speed and travel pace of the creatures moving and the terrain they‘re moving over.
Every character and monster has a speed, which is the distance in feet that the character or monster can walk in 1 round. This number assumes short bursts of energetic movement in the midst of a life- threatening situation.
The following rules determine how far a character or monster can move in a minute, an hour, or a day.
While traveling, a group of adventurers can move at a normal, fast, or slow pace, as shown on the Travel Pace table. The table states how far the party can move in a period of time and whether the pace has any effect. A fast pace makes characters less perceptive, while a slow pace makes it possible to sneak around and to search an area more carefully (see the “Activity While Traveling” section later in this chapter for more information).
Forced March. The Travel Pace table assumes that characters travel for 8 hours in day. They can push on beyond that limit, at the risk of exhaustion.
For each additional hour of travel beyond 8 hours, the characters cover the distance shown in the Hour column for their pace, and each character must make a Constitution saving throw at the end of the hour. The DC is 10 + 1 for each hour past 8 hours. On a failed saving throw, a character suffers one level of exhaustion (see appendix A).
Mounts and Vehicles. For short spans of time (up to an hour), many animals move much faster than humanoids. A mounted character can ride at a gallop for about an hour, covering twice the usual distance for a fast pace. If fresh mounts are available every 8 to 10 miles, characters can cover larger distances at this pace, but this is very rare except in densely populated areas.
Characters in wagons, carriages, or other land vehicles choose a pace as normal. Characters in a waterborne vessel are limited to the speed of the vessel (see chapter 5), and they don’t suffer penalties for a fast pace or gain benefits from a slow pace. Depending on the vessel and the size of the crew, ships might be able to travel for up to 24 hours per day.
Certain special mounts, such as a pegasus or griffon, or special vehicles, such as a carpet of flying, allow you to travel more swiftly. The Dungeon Master’s Guide contains more information on special methods of travel.
|Pace||Distance per Minute||Distance per Hour||Distance per Day||Effect|
|Fast||400 feet||4 miles||30 miles||—5 penalty to passive Wisdom (Perception) scores|
|Normal||300 feet||3 miles||24 miles|
|Slow||200 feet||2 miles||18 miles||Able to use stealth|
The travel speeds given in the Travel Pace table assume relatively simple terrain: roads, open plains, or clear dungeon corridors. But adventurers often face dense forests, deep swamps, rubble—filled ruins, steep mountains, and ice-covered ground—all considered difficult terrain.
You move at half speed in difficult terrain—moving 1 foot in difficult terrain costs 2 feet of speed—so you can cover only half the normal distance in a minute, an hour, or a day.
Special Types of Movement¶
Movement through dangerous dungeons or wilderness areas often involves more than simply walking. Adventurers might have to climb, crawl, swim, or jump to get Where they need to go.
Climbing, Swimming and Crawling¶
While climbing or swimming, each foot of movement costs 1 extra foot (2 extra feet in difficult terrain), unles a creature has a climbing or swimming speed. At the DM’s option, climbing a slippery vertical surface or one with few handholds requires a successful Strength (Athletics) check. Similarly, gaining any distance in rough water might require a successful Strength (Athletics) check.
Your Strength determines how far you can jump.
Long Jump. When you make a long jump, you cover a number of feet up to your Strength score if you move at least 10 feet on foot immediately before the jump. When you make a standing longjump, you can leap only half that distance. Either way, each foot you clear on the jump costs a foot of movement.
This rule assumes that the height of your jump doesn’t matter, such as a jump across a stream or chasm. At your DM’s option, you must succeed on a DC 10 Strength (Athletics) check to clear a low obstacle (no taller than a quarter of the jump’s distance), such as a hedge or low wall. Otherwise, you hit it.
When you land in difficult terrain, you must succeed on a DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check to land on your feet. Otherwise, you land prone.
High Jump. When you make a high jump, you leap into the air a number of feet equal to 3 + your Strength modifier if you move at least 10 feet on foot immediately before the jump. When you make a standing high jump, you can jump only half that distance. Either way, each foot you clear on the jump costs a foot of movement. In some circumstances, your DM might allow you to make a Strength (Athletics) check to jump higher than you normally can.
You can extend your arms half your height above yourself during the jump. Thus, you can reach above you a distance equal to the height of the jump plus 1 1/2 times your height.
Activity While Traveling¶
As adventurers travel through a dungeon or the wilderness, they need to remain alert for danger, and some characters might perform other tasks to help the group’s journey.
The adventurers should establish a marching order.
A marching order makes it easier to determine which characters are affected by traps, which ones can spot hidden enemies, and which ones are the closest to those enemies when a fight breaks out.
A character might occupy the front rank, one or more middle ranks, or the back rank. Characters in the front and back ranks need enough room to travel side by side with others in their rank. When space is too tight, the marching order must change, usually by moving characters to a middle rank.
Fewer Than Three Ranks. If an adventuring party arranges its marching order with only two ranks, they are a front rank and a back rank. If there’s only one rank, it’s considered a front rank.
While traveling at a slow pace, the characters can move stealthily. As long as they’re not in the open, they can try to surprise or sneak by other creatures they encounter. See the rules for hiding in chapter 7.
Use the passive Wisdom (Perception) scores of the characters to determine whether anyone in the group notices a hidden threat. The DM might decide that a threat can be noticed only by characters in a particular rank. For example, as the characters are exploring a maze of tunnels, the DM might decide that only those characters in the back rank have a chance to hear or spot a stealthy creature following the group, while characters in the front and middle ranks cannot. While traveling at a fast pace, characters take a 75 penalty to their passive Wisdom (Perception) scores to notice hidden threats.
Encountering Creatures. If the DM determines that the adventurers encounter other creatures while they’re traveling, it’s up to both groups to decide what happens next. Either group might decide to attack, initiate a conversation, run away, or wait to see what the other group does.
Surprising Foes. If the adventurers encounter a hostile creature or group, the DM determines whether the adventurers or their foes might be surprised when combat erupts. See chapter 9 for more about surprise.
Characters who turn their attention to other tasks as the group travels are not focused on watching for danger. These characters don’t contribute their passive Wisdom (Perception) scores to the group’s chance of noticing hidden threats. However, a character not watching for danger can do one of the following activities instead, or some other activity with the DM’s permission.
Navigate. The character can try to prevent the group from becoming lost, making a Wisdom (Survival) check when the DM calls for it. (The Dungeon Master’s Guide has rules to determine whether the group gets lost.)
Draw a Map. The character can draw a map that records the group’s progress and helps the characters get back on course if they get lost. No ability check is required.
Track. A character can follow the tracks of another creature, making a Wisdom (Survival) check when the DM calls for it. (The Dungeon Master’s Guide has rules for tracking.)
Forage. The character can keep an eye out for ready sources of food and water, making a Wisdom (Survival) check when the DM calls for it. (The Dungeon Master’s Guide has rules for foraging.)
Splitting Up the Party¶
Sometimes, it makes sense to split an adventuring party, especially ifyou want one or more characters to scout ahead. You can form multiple parties, each moving at a difl’erent speed. Each group has its own front, middle, and back ranks.
The drawback to this approach is that the party will be split into several smaller groups in the event ofan attack. The advantage is that a small group of stealthy characters moving slowly might be able to sneak past enemies that clumsier characters would alert. A rogue and a monk moving at a slow pace are much harder to detect when they leave their dwarf paladin friend behind.