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Chapter 8: Tactical Rules / Actions in Combat

Standard Actions

Source Starfinder Core Rulebook pg. 244
A standard action is usually the main action you take each round, other than movement. Below are examples of standard actions.

Activate an Item

Many technological and magic items, such as a cybernetic hand, don’t need to be activated. Certain items, however, do need to be activated to have an effect. Unless otherwise noted, activating such an item is a standard action.


Making a single attack is a standard action.

Melee Attacks

With a melee weapon, you can strike any opponent in a square adjacent to your space. You add your Strength modifier to your melee attack rolls and to your melee damage rolls.

Some melee weapons in Chapter 7 have the reach special property, as indicated in their descriptions, and some monsters have natural reach. Typically, a character or monster with reach can attack any foe within their reach (see Reach and Threatened Squares on page 255 for more details).

Ranged Attacks

With a ranged weapon, you can shoot or otherwise attack a target that is within the weapon’s maximum range and in your line of effect (see page 271). You add your Dexterity modifier to your ranged attack rolls, but not to your ranged damage rolls.

Ranged Attacks with a Thrown Weapon

With a thrown weapon or a grenade, you can make a ranged attack at a target that is within the weapon’s maximum range and in your line of effect (see page 271). You add your Strength modifier to your ranged attack rolls with a thrown weapon, and to your damage rolls with weapons with the thrown special property. Do not add your Strength modifier to damage rolls with grenades.

Targeting a Grid Intersection

When using a thrown weapon that has an area effect, such as a grenade, you target a specific grid intersection on a tactical battle map, rather than a specific creature. Treat this as a ranged attack against AC 5.

Missing with a Thrown Weapon

If you miss on a ranged attack with a thrown weapon, the weapon lands in a random square or grid intersection as appropriate near your target. To determine where it lands, roll 1d8. This determines the initial misdirection of the throw, with 1 falling short (off-target in a straight line toward the thrower), and 2 through 8 rotating around the target creature or grid intersection in a clockwise direction, as illustrated in the diagram above. After you’ve determined the misdirection of the throw, roll 1d4. The result is how many squares away in that direction the weapon lands.

For example, after a missed ranged attack with a grenade, a player rolls 1d8 with a result of 1. This indicates that the grenade’s initial misdirection falls short of the target intersection. Then, the player rolls 1d4 with a result of 2. This determines that the grenade actually lands at an intersection 2 squares in front of the target intersection.

Range and Penalties

A ranged weapon’s range increment is listed along with its other statistics (see Chapter 7). If you make an attack with a ranged weapon from a distance greater than its listed range, you take a cumulative –2 penalty to the attack roll for each full range increment of distance between you and the target beyond the first (or fraction thereof).

For most ranged weapons, the maximum range is 10 range increments, or 10× the number listed as the weapon’s range. For thrown weapons, the maximum range is 5 range increments. Some ranged weapons have different maximum ranges, but if so, their descriptions specify their maximum ranges.

Critical Hits

When you make an attack roll and get a natural 20 (the d20 comes up 20), you hit regardless of your target’s AC. If the total result of your attack roll meets or exceeds the target’s EAC or KAC (as appropriate for your attack), you’ve also scored a critical hit. You roll your damage twice, each time with all your usual bonuses and including any additional damage from special abilities, and then add the rolls together. Some weapons inflict a special effect on a target of a critical hit, in addition to dealing double damage (see page 182).

If the total result of your attack is less than your target’s relevant AC, your attack still hits on a natural 20, but it deals damage normally.

Cast a Spell

The vast majority of spells require at least a standard action to cast, and sometimes more. Spells that take more than a round to cast require a full action each round until they are complete. For more information about how spells and magic work, see Chapter 10.

Casting While Threatened

Casting a spell takes a significant amount of concentration, forcing you to lower your defenses briefly. When you cast a spell, it gives targets threatening you in melee a chance to make an attack of opportunity against you (see Attack of Opportunity on page 248), unless the spell specifies otherwise—normally only the case for a few spells with a range of touch. If this attack of opportunity hits and damages you, you fail to cast the spell and lose the spell slot. For more information about threatened squares, see page 255.

Combat Maneuver

As a standard action, you can attempt one of the following combat maneuvers. For each maneuver, choose an opponent within your reach (including your weapon’s reach, if applicable) and then make a melee attack roll against the opponent’s KAC + 8. The effects of success vary depending on the maneuver, as described below.

Bull Rush

You knock the target back 5 feet, plus 5 additional feet for every 5 by which the result of your attack roll exceeds the target’s KAC + 8. If an obstacle is in the way, the target stops at the obstacle instead.

Dirty Trick

You make an unorthodox attack to briefly hinder the target. A dirty trick could be throwing sand in the target’s eyes, jamming a rock into his actuators, or any other improvised action designed to put your opponent at a disadvantage. Your target is blinded, deafened, entangled, off-target, shaken, or sickened (your choice) for 1 round, plus 1 additional round for every 5 by which the result of your attack roll exceeds the target’s KAC + 8 (see Conditions beginning on page 273 for information on these conditions). The target can remove the condition as a move action. A dirty trick is normally a melee attack, but a GM can allow certain actions to count as dirty tricks at range, in which case you take a –2 penalty to your attack roll for every 5 feet between you and the target.


You knock an item the target is holding out of the target’s hands and onto the ground. If you have a hand free, you can automatically grab the item with your hand before it falls.


You hold the target in place. You must have at least one hand free to perform a grapple combat maneuver. Your target has the grappled condition, meaning she can’t move from her current space and takes further penalties until she either uses a standard action to attempt a grapple combat maneuver to grapple you (giving you the grappled condition) or uses the escape task of the Acrobatics skill to break free. If the result of your attack roll equals or exceeds the target’s KAC + 13, the target is instead pinned for the same duration, and she can’t take any actions that involve moving her limbs other than to attempt to escape.

The grappled or pinned condition lasts until the end of your next turn, unless you renew it on your next turn with another grapple combat maneuver. The condition ends immediately if you move away. As long as you have one target grappled or pinned, you cannot attempt to grapple another. The grappled and pinned conditions are further detailed in Conditions on pages 276–277.

When you renew a grapple, you can remove one item from the target’s body that can be easily accessed, including most weapons and equipment (but not worn armor). Doing so immediately ends the grapple.


You change the target’s position to a different location still within your reach and within 5 feet of its original placement. You can move the target 5 additional feet for every 5 by which the result of your attack roll exceeds the target’s KAC + 8, but all movement must remain within your reach. You cannot move the target past an obstacle.

If you reposition a creature as a full action, you can move a distance equal to the distance you repositioned your target (up to your move speed), dragging the target along with you.


You deal damage to one object held in the target’s hand or accessible on its body. The object must be something that could be drawn easily by the target as a move action (see Draw or Sheathe a Weapon on page 247). The damage is reduced by an amount equal to the object’s hardness (see Smashing an Object page 409).


You knock the target prone if it is on the ground. A target in the air instead descends 10 feet, falling prone if this causes it to fall to the ground. A target in zero gravity is instead knocked offkilter. The prone and off-kilter conditions are further detailed on pages 276–277.

Concentrate to Maintain a Spell

Some spells require continued concentration to keep them going. Concentrating to maintain a spell is a standard action (see Duration on page 270 for more information about concentration).

Covering Fire

You can use your standard action to make a ranged attack that provides covering fire for an ally. Make a ranged attack roll against AC 15. If you hit, you deal no damage but the selected ally gains a +2 circumstance bonus to AC against the next attack from a creature in your line of effect (see page 271), so long as that attack occurs before your next turn.

Dismiss a Spell

Dismissing an active spell is a standard action (see Duration on page 270 for more information about dismissible spells).


You can use your standard action to feint by attempting a Bluff check. The DC of this check is equal to either 10 + your opponent’s Sense Motive total skill bonus or 15 + 1-1/2 × the opponent’s CR, whichever is greater. You can’t feint against a creature that lacks an Intelligence score, and you cannot take 10 or take 20 (see page 133 in Chapter 5) on a Bluff check to feint. When you successfully feint, you treat your opponent as flat-footed for your next attack against him before the end of your next turn.

Fight Defensively

You can fight defensively when attacking as part of a standard action. If you do, you take a –4 penalty to attacks you make in that round but gain a +2 bonus to AC until the start of your next turn.

Harrying Fire

You can use your standard action to make a ranged attack that distracts a foe in your line of effect. Make an attack roll against AC 15. If you hit, you deal no damage, but the next ally to attack that foe gains a +2 circumstance bonus to her next attack roll, as long as that attack occurs before your next turn.

Total Defense

You can defend yourself as a standard action. Starting at the beginning of this action, you get a +4 bonus to your Armor Class until the start of your next turn. You can’t combine total defense with other actions that increase your AC, nor can you make attacks of opportunity while benefiting from total defense.

Use a Special Ability

There are three types of special abilities: extraordinary, spell-like, and supernatural. Special abilities often carry the parenthetical abbreviations (Ex), (Sp), or (Su) to indicate whether they are extraordinary, spell-like, or supernatural abilities. Some are ongoing, while others are use-activated. For more details, including descriptions of specific special abilities, see page 262.

Using a special ability is usually a standard action, unless it is an ongoing ability or the ability says otherwise. In rare cases, an ability might take a full action or a move action to activate. In most cases, a use-activated special ability cannot be activated as a swift action. Using a spell-like ability typically provokes attacks of opportunity (see page 248) unless stated otherwise.