One of the benefits of the Dark Creature template (Tome of Magic, p. 161) is that you get +10 feet "to all modes of movement".

Let's say I take a level in Ape Totem Barbarian, which grants a climb speed "equal to one-half his base land speed". Will the Dark Creature's effect apply retroactively to the new mode of movement? In other words:

Dark Human: 40' base land speed
 (a) Climb 20' (one-half BLS)
 (b) Climb 30' (one-half BLS + 10' from Dark)

Is (a) or (b) correct?

Now what if I'm just a normal human, take that same level in Ape Totem, then don the Collar of Umbral Metamorphosis (an item which bestows the Dark template)? Will my climb speed be

(a) Climb 25' (fixed at one-half original 30' BLS + 10' from Dark)
(b) Climb 30' (one-half new 40' BLS + 10' from Dark)

The first instance is a question of retroactive application, the second a question of re-calculating values (does the "one-half base land speed" recalculate, or stay at the value of its initial calculation?).

As an aside, I assume that haste would work similarly to the second example. Edit: Haste doesn't alter "base" speed like the Dark template does.


3 Answers 3


The key wording here is 'base' land speed, which in the Player's Handbook as specifically determined by race only. (Its in the glossary, page 305).

A) Climb Speed 25.

Thus, in your case, (if hasted) you would have:

Land: 30 (Human) +10 (Dark) + 30 (Haste) = 70

Climb: 15 (Ape) +10 (Dark) +30 (Haste) = 55

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ It's determined by race, but your templates are part of your race. \$\endgroup\$
    – DuckTapeAl
    May 25, 2014 at 1:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ The question, then, is how exactly does the collar work. Does it actually grant you the template, in some way augmenting your race while you're wearing it? In that case it would be Land: 40' (Dark Human) + 30 (Haste) = 70, and Climb: 20' (Ape) + 10' (Dark) + 30' (Haste) = 60'. But if the collar merely grants you the benefits of the template, I suppose your climb speed would be correct (except he'd only get 25' from Haste). RAW the collar actually alters your race temporarily. \$\endgroup\$ May 25, 2014 at 4:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for pointing out the glossary. I think I'm getting 3.5 and Pathfinder mixed up in my head... That's what I get for playing both at once! \$\endgroup\$ May 25, 2014 at 4:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm actually not sure templates are a part of race - Is there somewhere you can point out in the rules where is the case? RAW, the rules on templates distinguish between different kinds of templates - inherited or aquired, and 'race' has a specific meaning in the players handbook, but I could not find mention of it in either MM or DMG. Logically speaking, 'inherited' should probably be considered part of race, but thats not how it works RAW to my knowledge. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chandrak
    May 25, 2014 at 6:21


RAW the 'all' basically means you get to add twice. Your base land speed is 40' (if human), and your climb speed is 30' (half base land, +10 dark).

Haste and similar spells modify your land speed/speed, not your base land speed/base any other speed. The 'base' is just race/templates + a few oddball things that mention 'base land speed'. Everything else is just 'land speed' or 'speed'. Even permanent spells and magic items don't change it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You say just race/templates. But what about the Quick trait, which says, "Your base land speed increases by 10 feet," as well as the feat Fleet of Foot and the Celerity domain, which both say, "Your land speed is faster than the norm for your race by 10 feet." The latter doesn't say "base", but.... Everybody is saying "base" is an important word, but I feel like they use the terms inconsistently. For instance, the feat Speed of Thought says you get a bonus "to your speed of 10 feet". What is meant by "speed"? All speeds, for multiple movement types? Or are we meant to assume "land speed"? \$\endgroup\$ May 25, 2014 at 4:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is important, because 'base land speed' has a specific definition in the glossary as opposed to 'speed', which refers to the total of all modifiers. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chandrak
    May 25, 2014 at 6:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ The game uses the terms inconsistently but they are defined and therefore exist as rules in raw. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    May 26, 2014 at 1:18

The Dark template increases your base speed.

In your first example, option A would be correct. The Dark template increases the speed of all the forms of movement possessed by the base creature. Also, it would be sort of weird to increase the speed of a form of movement that is already increased based on the template. Since your Ape Totem speed is derived from your land speed, it doesn't get a boost from Dark template, other than the boost it already gets from your increased land speed.

In your second example, neither of your options is correct. Your Ape Totem climb speed is still based on your base land speed, which becomes 40. Your Ape Totem climb speed would be 20, just like in the first example.

In your haste example, neither option is correct. Since haste doesn't modify your base land speed, your climb speed is 15'. Haste is limited to increasing speed up to twice that form of movement's speed. In that case, you would have a climb speed of 30'.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I missed the part about no more than twice the normal speed, so yeah, you're right about Haste. As to your second paragraph, I disagree -- climb would be 30'. Either "base" is an important word, in which case Dark never mentions it (it just says +10 feet to all movement modes), or it isn't an important word so again, the speed increase should apply to a mode of movement not possessed by the base creature. This also brings into question the first scenario: Since Dark doesn't care where the mode derived from, why couldn't it boost a class-derived climb speed just as much as a race-derived one? \$\endgroup\$ May 25, 2014 at 4:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Poorly written stuff is incredibly common in 3.x/PF. That template isn't very clearly written, but I think the interpretation that's most likely correct is the one where you don't apply the bonus to your climb speed twice, which is what you're implying. \$\endgroup\$
    – DuckTapeAl
    May 25, 2014 at 6:06

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