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Source Ultimate Combat pg. 170
In the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, low-level characters do most of their traveling on their own two feet. At higher levels, magical travel becomes a common occurrence, as does travel by horseback, atop animal companions, or via more exotic mounts. Every so often, travel may involve a vehicle of some sort—the wagons of a caravan, a windtossed galley, some fantastic form of aerial transport, or even a planes-hopping device. If you like your games with a dose of weird, such vehicles may be as strange as a crashed space vessel. Whatever the case, vehicles in the Pathfinder RPG are often treated as either mobile terrain or adventure sites in their own right.

Many of the iconic motifs that inspire roleplaying games touch on vehicular adventures, from the voyages of Jason and the Argonauts to pirate tales, from charioteers in blood-soaked arenas under a drone of cheers to those who would chase and tame dragons. History and fiction are full of interesting vehicles performing death-defying actions. The rules in this chapter allow you to run combats with vehicles in the Pathfinder RPG, rather than just treating them as objects or terrain.

The following rules attempt to strike a balance between verisimilitude and ease and speed of play during combat. In areas where those two balancing points are conflicted, ease of use should always prevail.

Vehicle Basics

Source Ultimate Combat pg. 170
What follow are the basic rules for using vehicles in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. They give an overview of the rules that all vehicles use.
  • Drivers: Drivers control vehicles. A driver is a creature with an Intelligence score of at least 3 who is physically able to manipulate a vehicle’s driving device and who is both within the driving spaces of a vehicle and actively manipulating the driving device.
  • Occupants: Any creature riding, driving, serving as crew on, or providing propulsion for a vehicle is considered its occupant.
  • Facing: Unlike characters, vehicles have a forward facing. A vehicle moves best when it moves in the direction of its forward facing.
  • Acceleration/Deceleration: Vehicles must accelerate to reach their maximum speed. Each round, with the proper driving action and a successful check, the driver can increase the vehicle’s movement by its rate of acceleration, as long that value is no greater than the vehicle’s maximum speed. Vehicles must decelerate to slow down and are hard to stop at an exact point.
  • Initiative: A vehicle moves at the start of its driver’s turn. If a vehicle has no driver, it moves on the turn of the last creature that was its driver, or on a turn determined by the GM.
  • Controlling a Vehicle: If a vehicle has a driver, before the driver does anything else on her turn, she must determine what drive action she is taking, and take that action. If the driver takes no action, takes some other action instead of driving the vehicle, or delays or readies an action—or if there is no driver—the vehicle takes the “uncontrolled” action. A driver can only take one action each turn to control a vehicle. Once the driver has selected the action, or takes some other action forcing the vehicle to become uncontrolled, the vehicle moves.
  • Driving Check: When a driver takes a driving action, she must make a driving check to determine the maneuverability and speed of the vehicle that round. The vehicle’s propulsion determines what skill is used for the driving check. A driver can always make a Wisdom check in place of a driving check. The base DCs for all driving checks are DC 5 and DC 20. Use the lower DC when the driver is not in combat and the higher DC when the driver is in combat.
  • In Combat: Vehicles, creatures used as propulsion, and crew members do not threaten any area around them, but their drivers and their non-crew occupants do. Vehicles can enter the spaces of objects and creatures smaller than themselves. Vehicles do not have attacks, but they can—and may be required to— make vehicular bull rush, vehicular overrun, and ramming combat maneuvers.

    Full Vehicle Rules

    Source Ultimate Combat pg. 170
    The basic rules give a general idea of how vehicles act in the structure of the combat round, and how they are different than creatures. The following sections go into greater depth about running vehicles in combat.

    Vehicle Statistics

    Source Ultimate Combat pg. 180
    Below are explanations of some of the traits noted in vehicle statistics. If information for a given category is not listed in a given stat block, it is not applicable.

    Name: The name of the vehicle.

    Size and Type: Divided into land, sea, and air.

    Squares: The typical size of the vehicle is measured in a number of squares, followed by the standard configuration of those squares.

    Cost: The vehicle’s cost in gp. Sometimes the description or the weapons section provides possible modifications for the vehicles. These are not included in the cost of the vehicle, nor are additions like rams or siege engines.

    AC and Hardness: This is the AC and harness of the vehicle. The AC assumes the vehicle is in motion and the driver has not modified the AC with his driving skill. If the vehicle is not in motion, it has an effective Dexterity of 0 (–5 penalty to AC), and an additional –2 penalty to its AC.

    hp: While a vehicle can be attacked in combat, it is often hard to significantly damage large vehicles. When a vehicle reaches the hit point total in the parentheses, it is broken. A vehicle’s hit points not factor in its method of propulsion or the driving device. They have their own statistics.

    Base Save: Each vehicle has a base save modifier. All of the vehicle’s saving throws (Fortitude, Reflex, and Will) have the same value. This is the vehicle’s save before the driver modifies it with his driving check.

    Maximum Speed: This is the fastest that a vehicle can move. When a vehicle has more than one method of propulsion, it may also have more than one maximum speed.

    CMB and CMD: The CMB an CMD before the driver modifies it with his driving check modifier.

    Acceleration: This is how fast a vehicle can increase its speed each round. It also determines the maximum amount a vehicle can safely decelerate each round.

    Propulsion: The type and amount of propulsion required.

    Driving Check: The skills typically used to make a vehicle driving check with this vehicle.

    Forward Facing: The direction of the vehicle’s forward facing.

    Driving Device: The typical driving device the driver manipulates when driving the vehicle.

    Driving Space: The size and the location of the vehicle’s driving space.

    Crew: This is the number of crew members, in addition to the driver, needed to move the vehicle.

    Decks: The number of decks and any important information about those decks is given in this section.

    Weapons: Some vehicles can be equipped with siege weapons. This is the number of siege or vehicle weapons that a vehicle can have.

    Land Vehicles

    Source Ultimate Combat pg. 181
    Land vehicles carry occupants and cargo over hard earth or similar terrain. They are typically propelled by muscle, but can be moved by a variety of propulsion methods. The following are the most common types of land vehicles, including all land vehicles that characters can purchase in the Core Rulebook.

    Water Vehicles

    Source Ultimate Combat pg. 184
    Water vehicles move across bodies of water, whether as small as a river or as large as an ocean. They are typically propelled by muscle or sail, but can be moved by a variety of propulsion methods. The following are the most common types of water vehicles, including all water vehicles that characters can purchase in the Core Rulebook.

    Air Vehicles

    Source Ultimate Combat pg. 186
    Air vehicles fly through the air. They are usually propelled by air currents, alchemical engines, magic, or in the case of larger air vehicles, a mix of air currents and alchemical engines or magic. Airships, because of their nature, travel though all three dimensions instead of two. When they ascend, they must do so at half their current speed. When air vehicles descend, they can (but do not have to) move at double their current speed. After the ascent or descent, treat the vehicle’s current speed as it was before making the ascent or descent.