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The game seems to assume ideal battlefield conditions with perfect intelligence. However, sometimes battlefield conditions aren't ideal and intelligence isn't perfect.

The special attack charge says

You must move before your attack, not after. You must move at least 10 feet (2 squares) and may move up to double your speed directly toward the designated opponent. ...

You must have a clear path toward the opponent, and nothing can hinder your movement (such as difficult terrain or obstacles). You must move to the closest space from which you can attack the opponent. If this space is occupied or otherwise blocked, you can't charge. If any line from your starting space to the ending space passes through a square that blocks movement, slows movement, or contains a creature (even an ally), you can't charge. Helpless creatures don't stop a charge.

If you don't have line of sight to the opponent at the start of your turn, you can't charge that opponent. ...

Emphasis mine. There's more to it than that, but I think those are the important parts.

Questions

  1. The path between the creature and the foe contains 1 square of difficult terrain. The creature has the special ability—that the creature has not used—to take a free or swift action to ignore 1 square of difficult terrain.1 Without using that special ability, can the creature designate the foe as the target of the charge?
  2. The path between the creature and the foe contains 1 square of difficult terrain of which, because of magic or camouflage, the creature is unaware.2 Can the creature designate the foe as the target of the charge?
  3. The creature's ally has taken the ready action to make an attack with the trigger If the creature gets within 5 ft. of the first foe. On the creature's turn, the path between the creature and second foe is blocked by the first foe. Hoping his ally's attack will render the first foe helpless, can the creature designate the second foe as the target of the charge?
  4. The path between the creature and the first foe is blocked by a second foe that the creature can't perceive due to magic or camouflage. Can the creature designate the first foe as the target of the charge?

1 For example, the travel domain's supernatural ability agile feet.
2 Further, any creature wearing rubble gloves (8,000 gp; 1 lb.) could ready an action to activate the gloves with the trigger When I'm within a charging creature's apparent reach, therefore activating the gloves before the creature (apparently) threatened the wearer of the gloves.

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  1. Yes. Your example, Travel's Domain, is a free action and costs no time, so it could be activated beforehand knowing you would encounter rough terrain during your charge. If any other "special ability" costs more than a Swift or Free Action, you couldn't use it because charging is a full-round action.

  2. Yes, but the charge would fail and the creature would stop in the square with the difficult terrain. You could also preemptively activate abilities, like Travel's Domain, if you suspect camouflaged terrain, but it's a waste if there isn't any. Also, readying Rubble Gloves would be an excellent method of disrupting a creature's charge.

  3. I'm not sure I fully understand the scenario you're describing here. Distance between obstacle and target doesn't matter, just that there is an obstacle. Whether or not you can declare a charge depends entirely on the conditions on your turn. Is there an obstacle? No? Great! Declare the charge! Note that you also can't ready a Charge because it is a full-round action and you can't ready full-round actions. (You can ready a standard action, a move action, a swift action, or a free action only.) So you can't ready a charge, and then hope your ally's readied action renders the impeding foe Helpless.

  4. Yes, but the charge fails as soon as you encounter the invisible creature and your movement ends in the square before theirs. Perhaps your GM would allow you to declare this creature a new target, but you'd be hindered by all the disadvantages of attacking an invisible creature (Invisibility and Concealment). You'd also have to guess that it's a creature in your way in the first place.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It looks like either a creature can charge or a creature can't charge. Do the rules support your explanation of how a charge fails? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 18 '15 at 10:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you. It's why I tagged this rules-as-written. I think your—totally sensible, by the way—house rules may be coloring your answer. I appreciate you doing more research. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 18 '15 at 10:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ O, I totally understand, but this is such a fundamental part of the game I expect someone in authority to've weighed in on it, in print, electronically, or whatever. It's charging, for heaven's sakes! Some character spend entire careers doing nothing but charging. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 18 '15 at 11:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Here's a discussion on invisible collisions on the Paizo forums. Seems to usually come down to GM ruling. \$\endgroup\$ – Jason_c_o Mar 18 '15 at 11:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ I found a FAQ entry that might be related. It definitely sets a precedent for "unexpected things can absolutely ruin your turn mid-turn". However, the examples include the complete loss of actions mid-turn, which does not apply when your charge-line is suddenly blocked. \$\endgroup\$ – MrLemon Mar 18 '15 at 16:15
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1

Yes. None of the restrictions are on "designating a foe".

You didn't ask this, but perhaps it was implied. Yes, you can also charge since, even though the rules state you cannot run or charge through difficult terrain, in the specific text for the rules for charging, it isn't the difficult terrain itself, rather the "hindered movement".

2

Yes, you may designate the foe.

However, you may be prevented from charging if your movement is hindered. That does not, however, stop your action. If you fell because of the difficult terrain (like a failed balance check with a hefty penalty since you were unaware), then falling itself is a move action (though the rules do not say this explicitly that I'm aware of). I think I normally see this ruled as part of the initial move, but then a second move would be required to stand up.

If you didn't fall, since there's no "partial running" accounted for, you move at your normal move speed, with x2 for the difficult terrain. You would end your turn at the end of your double move, or when you reach your destination, whichever comes first. Provided the entire distance was less than a single move, you could still attack, it just wouldn't be a charge. Or, you could choose to end your move after a single move and choose to do something else.

3

It depends. If the first foe blocks your line of sight, No. Otherwise, yes. The only restriction that affects the start of your turn is line of sight.

4

Yes. Same as #1

You cannot ever designate the second foe, at least, not if it follows that if you can't perceive the second foe, then you cannot designate it.

This does beg the question, "What happens when I reach the second foe?"

If the attacker was completely unaware of the second foe, and thus enters the second foe's square, and the second foe is not flat-footed, the second foe would get an attack of opportunity (since the attacker just exited a square threatened by the target). There's nothing in the rules that say the attack spoils the charge, however, the attacker just entered an opponent's square, which breaks a charging rule. Again, there's no "partial running" rules, so provided the attacker had not exceeded his single move speed, he could attack the (new) defender at this point, but it would not be a charge.

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