Is a 5-foot step in Pathfinder essentially the same as a Shift movement in D&D 4th edition? I believe that neither movements provoke an attack of opportunity so they sound like the same thing with a different name.

From "Take 5-Foot Step", Combat, PFSRD:

You can move 5 feet in any round when you don't perform any other kind of movement. Taking this 5-foot step never provokes an attack of opportunity. You can't take more than one 5-foot step in a round, and you can't take a 5-foot step in the same round that you move any distance.


2 Answers 2



Pathfinder's (and 3.5's) "5-foot step" move action is almost the same as 4e's "shift" move action. Both let you move one (5-foot) square without provoking any OA/AoO attacks.

Note that there are 2 differences: in 4e, shifting can be one half of a double move, but in 3.5/Pathfinder it cannot, since in 3.5/Pathfinder you can't take a 5-foot step in the same round that you move any distance (other than the 5-foot step). The other difference is that in 3.5/Pathfinder, taking a 5-foot doesn't use up your move action for the round (or any other actions for that matter), so you can still use it for non-movement purposes (such as a full-attack).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thats what I thought. Thank you for confirming it for me. \$\endgroup\$
    – etank
    Commented Jul 12, 2012 at 18:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ 5-foot step in Pathfinder is a free action even, meaning it doesn't take up any of your actions (thinking of swift for example). \$\endgroup\$
    – Cthos
    Commented Jul 14, 2012 at 2:57
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Note that this difference doesn't mean you can't safely withdraw in 3.5 (or PF, AFAIK). If all you do in a round is move, you do not provoke AoO from leaving the initial square of movement. If you wish to withdraw, then, you simply don't take a 5-foot step. \$\endgroup\$
    – Bacon Bits
    Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 6:53

Sort of, but not really.

A 4th edition shift is similar in that you can spend a move action to shift* one square without provoking an opportunity attack, but the similarities end there.

*this is the closest thing to a 5-foot step, you can't just say "a shift"

While any character can use a move action to shift 1 square, there is no direct analogy between a shift and a 5-foot step, and they are certainly not "the same thing with a different name."

Take the following examples that clearly deviate from 3.5/pathfinder

  • You can shift twice or more in one turn
  • You can take your normal movement, and then shift, or do so in reverse order.
  • There are powers that let you shift multiple squares at a time

The best way to think of shifting is that it is an amount of movement that does not provoke opportunity attacks, with the additional clarification that any character can spend a move action to shift one square.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ one of your bullet points is incorrect. There are pathfinder feats that trigger on 5-foot steps. 'Step up' being one. \$\endgroup\$
    – Colin D
    Commented Jul 12, 2012 at 18:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ColinD Thanks, I did not remember anything like that from my 3.5 days. Removed that point. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpatchery
    Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 10:47

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