In a previous encounter I filled a room with a bunch of chairs and tables with the intent of players run around or over them to escape a difficult creature. I wasn't sure what the penalties were so I just had them roll acrobatics or athletics whenever they ran over a piece of furniture, and I was curious as to what the actual penalties were.


2 Answers 2


D&D 4th Edition doesn't appear to define it, and that isn't surprising. Unlike previous editions, 4e doesn't care so much about simulating the world or engaging in that level of detail. It offers much more high-level abstract rules alongside suggestions about how or when to apply them, and the designers weren't interested in going into such a specific level of detail as providing specific rules for moving over furniture.

4e will offer you some terrain types to base your own off, or various suggestions in the rules, and it's ultimately up to you as the DM to decide how you want to run this. As long as you and your players found the way you approached that terrain to be fun, what you did was perfectly fine.

One suggestion is offered: the description for Difficult Terrain (PHB p284, or RC p310) specifically mentions moving over "low furniture", and difficult terrain means "each square of difficult terrain costs 1 extra square of movement to enter."

However: this is a guideline or example of when to use difficult terrain, not a rule as to when you must.

You're free to make a judgement call about when to use this. What furniture counts as "low furniture" is left up to you (which should reinforce that this is only a guideline): depending on your interpretation, it could be any furniture shorter than you, including chairs and tables but discounting tall cabinets and thrones - or it could be anything below waist height.

You're also free to govern movement over low furniture some other way (or via some other sort of terrain rules), or ignore it completely and have it provide no mechanical influence (your player characters can just shove it out of the way whilst running, or whatever).

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    \$\begingroup\$ I interpret "low" furniture to be things that are shorter than a person, i.e., a chair or table is low furniture, a wardrobe or the 12'-high-backed throne is not. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 23, 2013 at 1:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie That's fair enough! That sounds pretty reasonable for the penalty come to think of it. I should edit this later to mention it kinda hinges on interpretation, I guess! \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 23, 2013 at 1:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ Very good answer. I'd add that while the final call should be guided by --as you said-- "fun," the choice made can heavily redefine the encounter based on the abilities of the PCs and NPCs involved; if PCs can't move through difficult terrain easily but the NPCs can ignore it or use it for cover, that'll influence the strategic "landscape" of the battle. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Commented May 23, 2013 at 8:26

The answer is DM's discretion.

However, Keep on the Shadowfell (H1) describes what to use for beds and tables, at least for that adventure:

Beds: Each of the beds on the first level is large enough to accommodate two goblins. A bed provides cover for someone adjacent to it. It costs 2 squares of movement to hop up onto a bed. A character can make a DC 10 Strength check to tip over a bed, which then grants superior cover.

Tables: A table or similar piece of furniture (such as the rack in Area 2) is tall enough that a Small creature can move under it and gain cover. It costs 2 squares of movement to hop up onto a table. A character can make a DC 10 Strength check to tip over a table, which then grants superior cover.


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