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The Combat rules have to say this about Running: "When you run, you can move up to four times your speed in a straight line ...".

Now my question is: what if I'm in a dungeon, or more generally in a place where there isn't much open space, and want to flee/get away?

As in a dungeon the possibility to have "straight lines" is little, can I only flee by "normally walking away"?

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Maybe you're focussing too much on the word run as in run away. If it were called Sprint, nothing would change, but you wouldn't assume the only alternative is "normally walking away". – TimLymington Jan 21 '13 at 18:52
up vote 16 down vote accepted

No, as others have said, you cannot use the Run action when there is no straight path available.

However, you're mistaken if you describe the alternative as "walking". The average D&D human using a double move action covers 60 feet in 6 seconds. That's a speed of 6.8 mi/h, and moving at that speed is not walking! It's closer to a brisk jog -- moving as rapidly as you can while still maintaining control. This is even called out in the rules for tactical movement:

Use tactical movement for combat. Characters generally don’t walk during combat—-they hustle or run. A character who moves his or her speed and takes some action is hustling for about half the round and doing something else the other half.

The Run action is sprinting full out at your max speed, which is realistically something most people could not do within the twisty corridors of a dungeon. If you tried you wouldn't get as far as more careful movement, since you'd have to stop at each corner or trip over yourself. The rules here actually make a lot of sense.

One final note: there is a feat, Fleet of Foot, that lets you make a single turn while using the Run action. I vaguely recall a class ability or second feat that improves this, though I can't find it now.

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There's an action for "running away" : Withdrawing

It's a full-round action with which you can move up to twice your speed and your starting square is not considered threatened, so you don't provoke AoO for moving out of this one, but can still provoke them for subsequent movement.

Actually Running is generally meant to cover a lot of distance in a short amount of time, with all the penalties concentrating on speed incur.

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@Nigrablus: I know there is the possibility to withdraw, but as you said, you can move "only" up to twice your speed, while running (away) will allow to move up to 3/4 time yours speed. Besides, this doesn't answer my question yet: if I'm in combat mode (not necessary adiacent to an enemy), can I just turn my back and flee/run away also if I don't have a straight line, as in a dungeon, for example? – Francesco Jan 18 '13 at 12:55
In the case of a Withdraw, nothing is restricting your path so long as you don't try to cut corners, I guess. Pathfinder and d20 games in general abstract facing, so you're not really "turning your back", the same way it takes no action to attack 2 different enemies on opposing sides of your square. – Nigralbus Jan 18 '13 at 16:55

If you use the Run option, you can only run in a straight line, barring specific feats or class features that change this default rule. If you do not have enough space to Run more than twice your Move speed in a straight line, you shouldn’t be using Run, since a double-move or Withdraw will get you further away.

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Ok. Than it really seems that if I'm in combat in a dungeon and want to flee as fast and far as possible, I can only "walk away"(what I find quiet ridiculous)... Ok if you are charging, but not if you are fleeing – Francesco Jan 18 '13 at 14:22
@Francesco I'm not sure you're picturing Withdrawing correctly, it's not like, terminator walking or anything. You're escaping as quickly as you can without smacking into other enemies, hazards, et cetera. – Yamikuronue Jan 18 '13 at 14:34
@Francesco Running is identical to non-combat charging. You move substantially faster using Run than Charge. Normal motion in combat (i.e. one Move action a turn) is considered a "Hustle" and two Move actions a turn is "running" but not the full-out sprint of the "Run" action. – KRyan Jan 18 '13 at 16:48

Running implies sprinting, which you really can't do at full speed and do complex maneuvering. The best I can suggest is a "Hustle", which means using your Standard Action as a movement in addition to the Move action. It gives you Move x 2 as a result.

Depending on your DM, you may be allowed to make a Tumble or Jump check to see if you can bypass certain obstacles but that would probably just save you from damage rather than allow the full run speed.

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