Role-playing Games Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gamemasters and players of tabletop, paper-and-pencil role-playing games. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I know everyone plays it differently when it comes to gm but, is movement distance something I need to be critical over? If so then I would feel the need to make PC's take a standard action to put on and take of armor which seems like a waste. I am still pretty new and wanted to ask more experienced gm's or other people's play styles they have experienced and can say if they were good or bad.

share|improve this question
There's rules for movement distance in armor, and putting armor on/taking it off. Are you looking for help using those rules, or opinions on if you should use them or not? – Tridus Jun 6 '14 at 13:21
Actually by the rules equipping or unequipping armour takes much longer than an action. See… – Neil Slater Jun 6 '14 at 13:21
@Tridus more or less an opinion of others experiance. – Kpt.Khaos Jun 6 '14 at 13:22
I've never seen variation in armor-based movement, but I have seen variation in whether moderate/heavy loads count. But that's a separate question. – Bobson Jun 25 '14 at 13:29
up vote 15 down vote accepted

Movement Speed Matters

Movement speed matters. If you're a low level caster with very limited HP and want to cast a spell, you don't want some melee guy taking attacks of opportunity when you do. If you're that melee guy, you don't want to let the spellcaster get away so he can cast freely.

The movement speeds relative to each other matter in that kind of situation. In my experience, a player who dies because we didn't worry about movement when they could have used their speed to survive is not a happy camper. I can't blame them.

This is pretty easy to track if you're using miniatures and a game board. If you're using a less formal method of tracking positions in combat, it gets trickier, but a fast character should never be penalized relative to a slow one, no matter what method you're using to run your game.


Armor actually takes multiple rounds to put on and take off. Full plate takes minutes. I've played in games that track this strictly. I don't do so in mine, as the party tends to camp in a secure location. It's assumed they put their armor on before setting out for the day, and the players are content with that.

If they got caught in an ambush while sleeping, then it would matter. Most of the time it's not something I find is worth worrying about.

share|improve this answer
Agree especially on the armor issue. 90% of the time, the characters are going to be wearing their armor at the start of combat except in extraordinary circumstances (ambush while sleeping, fight during a formal party, etc). There's not really a reason for characters to take off their armor after every fight and then have to put it back on at the start of the next one... Out-of-combat movement is much less important in most scenarios except special timed scenarios. No reason to say "you take 5 turns to gear up" every morning when there's no pressure to do it. – Doc Jun 6 '14 at 21:04

A good default assumption (applies to many games): Understand and use the rules in the book, unless you have a good reason not to. If you do have a good reason, be consistent according to that reason,and spend a little time considering the consequences. It may help if you discuss changes as a group, so that players don't think you are playing favourites, or can be argued into changing rules that inconvenience them at the time.

On the specific rules for armour, this only really crops up on the battle board, or in chase scenes where speed matters. Pathfinder has rules for getting in and out of armour which are a little harsher than 1 action suggested in the question.

In my games using battleboards, chases or long-distance travel, I have found it helpful to stick to the rules as written for armour speeds and penalties. It gives another dimension to characters - they can choose to play mobile-but-less-well-defended, or heavily-defended, but slightly slower characters, and the difference plays out during the game.

Having said that, allowing Fighters and Paladins better options for getting in and out of armour generally will not hurt. Those classes are very dependent on their equipment and are considered quite weak compared to others in the game.

Note that ignoring speed differences for sake of easier play will also invalidate some magic items, class features and spells. It should be fine, the game has more depth than just speed and movement numbers, but do let players know before they create their characters, otherwise they might choose to optimise character speed or mobility to discover you have made that not relevant to your game.

share|improve this answer

Generally speaking, there are only three movement speeds that matter: “slower,” “faster,” or “dead-even.” A faster character can get away from a slower one, and catch up with a slower one even when the slower one has a head start. A slower character cannot get away, and even loses any space they had if a faster character presses. When two characters are even, you can’t get away, but an opponent cannot get closer to you if you keep mirroring his movement, either.

Since most characters have 20 ft. or 30 ft. movement speed, armor which drops you from one category to the other is kind of important – or, as important as movement speed gets, anyway. But remember that the statements I make above are only true if everyone has ample space to maneuver, and assumes that the combatants care about the spacings between them, which may not be the case.

So if you wanted to play loose with movement, I would note the effect of armor, and just mentally keep track of armored characters as being in the “slower” category.

I have never actually had call to use the rules for putting on armor. Characters in my games tend to take measures necessary to ensure that their armor will be available when they need it (wearing light armor, having Endurance or a restful crystal, some other class feature, etc.), and even in the cases that they don’t have their armor, they just do without, not attempt to put it on in the heat of battle.

share|improve this answer

If it makes GMing more difficult for you or is not important to the story, you should consider ignoring it. (Assuming you have no players rely on this mechanic).

That said, movement distances in combat is important. A lot of strategies and mechanics are based around combatants only moving a certain distance per turn.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.