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The party I was DMing for was fighting in a sewer passage with small water ways running through the passage, and some questions came up about movement and water. The DM's guide 1 explains some aspects of swimming but it's not very lengthy.

When a creature is swimming can that creature shift?

Is there any keywords or types of movement that allow shifting while swimming?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

You can shift while swimming, but remember a few things about aquatic movement:

  • You must make an athletics check to swim.
  • You must spend 1 extra square of movement for each square you enter while swimming.

Full rules, including DC's for different types of water, can be found under the athletics skill.

Therefore, the normal move action of shifting 1 square is not possible, since it would cost you 2 squares. But if you have a feat/power/item that lets you shift more than 1 square, you could certainly use it while swimming (if you succeed on your athletics check).

If you have a swim speed, you can move normally in water and the above rules do not apply.

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You could also use two movement actions to sum up to 2 squares worth of shifting. If the character can shift as a minor action, he might as well use two minor actions to shift one square. –  Zachiel Aug 9 '12 at 21:29
Seems this answer is not correct –  GMNoob Dec 9 '12 at 19:26
@GMNoob Hmm, you are right. Wish I could downvote myself, but upvoting the correct answer will have to do! If the votes and accepted answer don't sort themselves out here in a few days I'll delete this answer so that we aren't misinforming people. –  dpatchery Dec 10 '12 at 13:43

Per the rules compendium page 249, you can't shift over any terrain that requires a skill check. So unless you have a swim speed, you can't shift while in water.

Here's the excerpt from the Rules Compendium - see the Special Movement Modes section:


Action: Move action.

Movement: The creature moves 1 square. (Some powers and effects allow creatures to move farther than 1 square with a shift.)

No Opportunity Actions Triggered: Unless the description of an effect says otherwise, shifting doesn't trigger opportunity actions such as opportunity attacks.

Special Movement Modes: A creature can't shift when using a movement mode that requires it to make a skill check. For instance, if it is climbing, it can't shift if it has to make an Athletics check to climb. (A creature that has a climb speed can shift while climbing.)

I normally invert this and say that you can shift over any terrain for which you have movement speed.

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