Balance

You can keep your balance while walking on a tightrope, a narrow beam, a slippery ledge, or an uneven floor.

Check: You can walk on a precarious surface. A successful check lets you move at half your speed along the surface for 1 round. A failure by 4 or less means you can’t move for 1 round. A failure by 5 or more means you fall. The difficulty varies with the surface, as follows:

Narrow Surface Balance DC1 Difficult Surface Balance DC2
7–12 inches wide 10 Uneven flagstone 102
2–6 inches wide 15 Hewn stone floor 102
Less than 2 inches wide 20 Sloped or angled floor 102

1 Add modifiers from Narrow Surface Modifiers, below, as appropriate.

2 Only if running or charging. Failure by 4 or less means the character can’t run or charge, but may otherwise act normally.

Narrow Surface Modifiers

Surface DC Modifier3
Lightly obstructed (scree, light rubble) +2
Severely obstructed (natural cavern floor, dense rubble) +5
Lightly slippery (wet floor) +2
Severely slippery (ice sheet) +5
Sloped or angled +2

3 Add the appropriate modifier to the Balance DC of a narrow surface. These modifiers stack.

Being Attacked while Balancing: You are considered flat-footed while balancing, since you can’t move to avoid a blow, and thus you lose your Dexterity bonus to AC (if any). If you have 5 or more ranks in Balance, you aren’t considered flat-footed while balancing. If you take damage while balancing, you must make another Balance check against the same DC to remain standing.

Accelerated Movement: You can try to walk across a precarious surface more quickly than normal. If you accept a –5 penalty, you can move your full speed as a move action. (Moving twice your speed in a round requires two Balance checks, one for each move action used.) You may also accept this penalty in order to charge across a precarious surface; charging requires one Balance check for each multiple of your speed (or fraction thereof ) that you charge.

Action: None. A Balance check doesn’t require an action; it is made as part of another action or as a reaction to a situation.

Special: If you have the Agile feat, you get a +2 bonus on Balance checks.

Synergy: If you have 5 or more ranks in Tumble, you get a +2 bonus on Balance checks.


Life in the wild often obliges elves and raptorans to perch in or move through the tops of trees. Halflings, too, often find themselves precariously balanced somewhere. Moving through Trees: Use Balance checks to move horizontally along a branch or tree trunk leaning over at an angle of up to 60 degrees. To move vertically in a tree, or to move along a branch or trunk with an angle of greater than 60 degrees, use the Climb skill.

DC Forest Type
104 Dense Forest: Trees are older with strong branches and are close together, including many massive trees. There are lots of branches to choose from, letting the character select the widest, flattest branches with the most support or hand holds.
15 Medium Forest: Trees are farther apart or not as old and the selection of branches is not as great, forcing the character to use some narrow branches or branches without support.
25 Sparse Forest: Trees are farther apart and not very old. The character has to use a lot of narrow branches without support or hand holds. The character is often moving across branches that are barely wide enough to move on.

4 Only when running or charging. Failure by 4 or less means the character can’t run or charge but may otherwise act normally. The character is not considered balancing when not moving.

Condition D Modifier
Moss, fungi, or slightly wet +2
Snow or ice +5

Moving Along an Unstable Surface: Use Balance to walk or crawl along a pitching or heaving surface, such as the top of a moving wagon, the backs of animals while they pull a vehicle, or a bouncy tarp or tent top.

D Example Surface
104 Loose gravel or wobbly bricks or stones
15 Awning, dune face, or snowdrift
18 Top of a vehicle traveling over a fairly smooth road
20 Top of a vehicle traveling over a rough road
22 Top of a vehicle traveling over a poor road, trail,
or unimproved surface
25 Ship’s deck in a storm, galloping horse, or top of a vehicle traveling over rocks, potholes, logs, or rubble
*Only when running or charging. Failure by 4 or less means the character can’t run or charge but may otherwise act normally. The character is not considered balancing when not moving.

Boats and ships offer clumsy characters a variety of ways to fall. Many characters who spend time on or around boats pick up a rank or two in Balance, simply because you never know when your life could depend on it. Some of the more common difficult surfaces found in seafaring environments include the following:

Green Water: A ship’s deck that is washed by a violent wave that covers the deck to a depth of 1 foot or more.

Heeling Deck: A ship that is heeling over (the deck is sloped sharply due to the way it’s running with the wind or the ship’s maneuvers) is the same as a sloped floor; see page 67 of the Player’s Handbook.

Roll, Heavy: A ship that is violently rolling from side to side, as opposed to simply heeling in one direction and staying there.

Sargasso: Floating mats of seaweed come in two varieties: light and heavy (see page 19). Only those who are truly light of foot can remain standing on light mat sargasso, but heavy mat sargasso is thick enough to support anyone walking with a little care.

Surf: Moving water between 1 foot (light surf) and 4 feet deep (heavy surf); see page 17.

Yardarm: The horizontal spar suspended from a ship’s mast. Deckhands taking in or setting sails generally stand on sturdy lines below the yardarm and lean into the yardarm for support; walking on top of a yardarm is a real stunt, since there isn’t anything to brace against.

Difficulty Modifiers: Wet decks and icy decks are treated just as lightly slippery and severely slippery surfaces, as described in the Balance skill on page 67 of the Player’s Handbook.

Underwater: Characters attempting to balance on things while completely submerged have a much smaller chance of falling off, simply because water resistance gives one an opportunity to correct for a mistake.

Check Modifiers: Characters can reduce their odds of losing their footing by bracing themselves with their hands or body. For example, characters reefing a sail often have to edge out on the yardarm while standing on a rope, a DC 20 Balance check. However, the character can brace herself with both hands while sliding along the rope, gaining a +10 bonus on the Balance check.

Seafaring Surface DC
Heeling deck 10
Sargasso, heavy mat 10
Surf, light 10
Roll, heavy 15
Surf, heavy 15
Yardarm 15
Green water 20
Sargasso, light mat 30
Wet deck +2
High winds +2
Icy deck +5
Severe motion +5
Underwater -10
Character’s Arms Skill Bonus
Body brace +5
One-hand brace +7
Two-hand brace +10

Balance

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