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Chapter 8: Tactical Rules / Vehicle Tactical Rules

Piloting a Vehicle

Source Starfinder Core Rulebook pg. 278
When you’re piloting a vehicle during a combat on a grid, the vehicle moves on your initiative count and you have to spend your actions to pilot it. Creatures can take the following actions to drive or interact with vehicles, in addition to the normal combat actions described earlier in this chapter.

Move Actions

It takes a move action to board, drive, start, abruptly stop, or take control of a vehicle, as detailed below.

Board or Disembark from a Vehicle

You can board or disembark from a vehicle as a move action. Doing so while the vehicle is in motion requires a successful Acrobatics or Athletics check; see Boarding on page 285.


You can pilot a vehicle at its drive speed, which is noted in the Speed entry of the vehicle’s statistics (see page 228) as a move action. You can turn as needed throughout that movement, and you set your heading at the end of the drive action.

Vehicles provoke attacks of opportunity while driving, and when you are in a vehicle that’s driving, you similarly provoke attacks of opportunity if you take any actions that would normally do so (including making ranged attacks) unless the vehicle provides total cover. You can’t use the drive action to move a vehicle through spaces occupied by creatures, even if they’re allies.

Start Vehicle

Firing the ignition of a vehicle is typically a move action, though more complicated vehicles might have a multistage startup sequence requiring multiple actions.

Stop Short

Stopping a vehicle after a race action (see Race below) requires a move action (stopping after a drive action doesn’t require an action; see Not an Action on page 280). Normally, a vehicle continues to move following a race action. You can attempt a Piloting check (see Pilot a Vehicle on page 146) to reduce the distance your vehicle moves before stopping after a race action by the result of your check, rounded down to the next 5-foot increment. For example, with a result of 17 you would reduce the distance moved by 15 feet (3 squares).

Take Control

You can take control of an uncontrolled vehicle as a move action. See Uncontrolled Vehicles on page 280 for more information about taking control of an uncontrolled vehicle.

Full Actions

Speed along in a straight line or attacking with the body of a vehicle takes a full action, as detailed below.


When making a race action, you pilot a vehicle at full speed in a straight line at its current heading using a full action. You must succeed at a Piloting check (DC = 10 + your vehicle’s item level) to race. If your vehicle is starting from a dead stop (that is, it didn’t move last round), the DC of the check increases by 5.

If you fail this Piloting check, the vehicle’s behavior depends on the circumstances of the check and the surrounding terrain. If you were attempting to race from a dead stop, the vehicle stalls and doesn’t move at all. If the vehicle was already moving, its behavior depends on the terrain. Rough terrain slows the vehicle, causing it to move at half its full speed at its current heading. On flat terrain, the vehicle usually moves at full speed but goes significantly off course. In this case, the GM should take the 180-degree arc in front of the vehicle and divide it into four equal 45-degree arcs. Then the GM randomly determines which of these arcs the vehicle moves into.

A vehicle can’t safely race through difficult terrain or over obstacles unless outfitted with special gear, nor can it safely race to a destination you can’t see unless you’ve thoroughly scanned the destination. If you force a vehicle to race unsafely, you must attempt a Piloting check at a DC determined by the GM (usually 20 + the vehicle’s item level) when you encounter the difficult terrain or obstacle. If you fail or the vehicle is uncontrolled (see page 280), the vehicle crashes or spins out, as determined by the GM.

After taking a race action, a vehicle doesn’t slow down immediately. On your next turn, you have four options: you can use another full action to continue to race at full speed, use a move action to drive at the vehicle’s drive speed, use a move action to stop short, or relinquish control of the vehicle as a swift action. If you take a swift or move action, you can also take a standard action during that turn. For instance, you could race one turn, then on your next turn, you could fire a weapon as a standard action and then drive as your move action.

A racing vehicle provokes attacks of opportunity, but it gets a +2 bonus to its AC against them due to its speed.

Many vehicles have extremely high full speeds compared to creatures’ speeds, so racing at full speed is often tantamount to exiting a battle entirely, unless other vehicles get involved.


As a full action, you can pilot a vehicle at up to its full speed in a straight line at its current heading and try to ram one creature or object at the end of the movement, dealing double the vehicle’s collision damage to the target and half the vehicle’s collision damage to your vehicle. A vehicle’s collision damage and collision DC are listed in the Attack (Collision) entry of its statistics (see page 228).

Movement during a ram action has all the same restrictions as the race action and requires the same Piloting checks. If you fail any Piloting check during the movement, you fail to ram your target.

If the target of the ram action is a creature, it can attempt a Reflex saving throw against the vehicle’s collision DC to avoid being hit. If the target of the ram action is another vehicle, the pilot of the defending vehicle can attempt a Piloting check to avoid being hit, with a DC equal to the result of your Piloting check. The attacker wins ties.

Run Over

As a full action, you can pilot a vehicle at up to double its drive speed and run over any creatures at least two size categories smaller than the vehicle during this movement. Those creatures take bludgeoning damage equal to the vehicle’s collision damage, but can each attempt a Reflex save against the vehicle’s collision DC to take half damage. Roll the damage only once and apply it to each creature, rather than rolling separately for each. A vehicle’s collision damage and collision DC are listed in the Attack (Collision) entry of its statistics (see Vehicles on page 228).

When you take a run over action, the vehicle takes damage equal to half the damage rolled for each creature it runs over. If the vehicle becomes unable to proceed due to this damage, it ceases moving. You can still set the vehicle’s heading at the end of this movement as normal.

A vehicle taking the run over action can damage a creature no more than once per round, no matter how many times its movement takes it over a target creature. The vehicle can run over objects of the appropriate size with the same effects, though they don’t receive saving throws unless they are piloted or otherwise animate.

Swift Actions

It takes a swift action to engage or disengage a vehicle’s autocontrol or autopilot or to relinquish control of a vehicle, as detailed below.

Engage or Disengage Autocontrol

You can engage a vehicle’s autocontrol as a swift action after taking a drive or race action. You can disengage its autocontrol as a swift action anytime. See Autocontrol below for more.

Engage or Disengage Autopilot

You can engage a vehicle’s autopilot as a swift action (see Autopilot below).

Relinquish Control

You can voluntarily hand over control of a vehicle to another pilot as a swift action. If you relinquish control of a vehicle but another pilot does not take over control, the vehicle becomes uncontrolled (see Uncontrolled Vehicles below).

Not an Action

The following does not require an action.


You can stop a vehicle after a drive action without difficulty and without spending an action.