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A player in my upcoming game wants to play a burrowing race. I couldn't find rules about what sort of actions a burrow creature can take.

Do rules exist for burrowing creatures:

  • Attacking from underground?
  • Getting cover underground?
  • Casting spells underground?

Note: I see this question has been answered for 4E, but this question is specifically about RAW Pathfinder.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Which burrowing race? And, of course, welcome to the site. Take the tour. An interesting first question that's possibly too broad--covering all the rules for even one type of movement is a pretty big deal, but if what seems like examples are the question's extent, things should be fine. I hope the site's capable of giving you an answer. Have fun and thanks for participating. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 10 '15 at 18:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan She wanted to play Trox, which is 28 RP and I didn't want to deal with negative levels with OP races. I talked her down to a custom race with 10 RP that I'll work into the world. \$\endgroup\$ – Sam Nov 10 '15 at 20:05
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Rules as Written, Burrow is undefined in Pathfinder.

The helpful folks at pathfindersrd have the rules for Burrow appended with the following note:

Burrow details were not included in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game so the details shown here were copied from d20srd.org.

RAW cannot help you here.

That said, we take the 3.5 rules, as they did:

A creature with a burrow speed can tunnel through dirt, but not through rock unless the descriptive text says otherwise. Creatures cannot charge or run while burrowing. Most burrowing creatures do not leave behind tunnels other creatures can use (either because the material they tunnel through fills in behind them or because they do not actually dislocate any material when burrowing); see the individual creature descriptions for details.

This tells us a few things on its own:

  • Burrowing is a form of movement, not a status condition.
  • A creature cannot use the Charge or Run actions using burrow movement.

Since burrowing is a form of movement, the condition applied isn't "being burrowed," but rather, "being inside a solid object." Incorporeal creatures have rules for this in Pathfinder:

Enemies have total concealment (50% miss chance) from an incorporeal creature that is inside an object. In order to see beyond the object it is in and attack normally, the incorporeal creature must emerge. An incorporeal creature inside an object has total cover, but when it attacks a creature outside the object it only has cover, so a creature outside with a readied action could strike at it as it attacks.

I would give Burrowing creatures the same options. While "burrowed," they

  • Can move
  • Can use spells, abilities, and items with themselves as the target
  • Have total concealment (and total cover) from everything.
  • Cannot see outside their burrow - but might be able to make perception checks to hear.
  • Can emerge as a free action

While "emerged," a they

  • Trigger readied actions from any enemy that readied to attack when they emerged.
  • Can attack, cast spells, etc. as normal
  • Can see outside their burrow, and be seen as normal.
  • Have cover (but not total cover) from everything, and everything has cover from them.
  • Can submerge as a free action, even in the same turn as they emerged.

Addendum: Grappling

There's nothing I can see that would stop them from grappling someone, pulling them into a burrow, and leaving them there. You may wish to create a house-rule that would allow a creature who gets buried thusly to dig themselves out before they suffocate.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ One specific thing that might be worth covering is how grappling might work. I am not sure how it works in Pathfinder, but if it is at all like 5e (rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/56377/…), from my understanding, it might be a stupidly easy way to kill someone. \$\endgroup\$ – Jonathon Nov 10 '15 at 20:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Great way to extrapolate the rules, I like these a lot. \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage Nov 10 '15 at 23:10

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