The combat round seems simple on the surface, but under the hood the apparently real-time combat is split into a variety of turn-based actions. Understanding these actions will help you better understand how combat plays out and plan your actions accordingly. There are five types of actions that a character can perform in a combat round: Free Actions, Swift Actions, Movement Actions, Standard Actions and Full-Round Actions.
During any normal combat round, a character can usually perform an unlimited number of Free Actions, one Swift Action, one Movement Action and one Standard Action (which can be substituted for a second Movement Action). Instead of performing a Move Action and Standard Action the character can perform a Full-Round Action.
In addition to all other types of action, a character is usually entitled to make a five-foot step once per round provided they haven’t taken a Movement Action in that same round. This can be somewhat tricky with the real-time trappings of Pathfinder: Kingmaker, but so long as you move around the distance of the reticle beneath each character, you shouldn’t overstep the bound of a five-foot step.
Obviously you won’t be clearing much ground with this maneuver, but it’s purpose is more tactical than anything else. Taking a five-foot step doesn’t provoke an Attack of Opportunity, so you can use it to safely move in combat. Use five-foot steps to disengage characters without provoking enemies, to position yourself to attack different foes, to flank enemies, or to make way for area-of-effect spells cast by allies.
The quickest of all actions, Free Actions take such an inconsequential amount of time that they don’t affect other actions. Free Actions include dropping items, performing Attacks of Opportunity, Cleave attacks, Power Attacks, or using the Combat Expertise Feat.
Swift Actions take a marginal amount of time. They’re quick enough that performing one during any combat round won’t affect other actions, but two of them would. One of the few actions that count as Swift Actions includes casting Quickened spells (via the Quicken Metamagic feat), but activating some class abilities may also fill this role. Suffice to say, unless you’re a caster that’s overly fond of Quickened spells (who isn’t?), you probably don’t have to worry about this too much.
A character can move their full movement speed while performing a Movement Action. The default movement speed is usually thirty feet for a medium-sized character, while smaller characters have a movement speed of twenty feet. Wearing medium or heavy armor or carrying too much weight can reduce your movement speed, as can difficult terrain (often temporarily created by spells). You can move up to your full movement speed during a Movement Action, but if you move further in a combat round you’ll expend your Standard Action taking a second Movement Action.
|Movement Speed by Race||Unarmored/Light Armor||Medium/Heavy Armor|
|Dwarf||20 feet||20 feet|
|Elf||30 feet||20 feet|
|Half-Elf||30 feet||20 feet|
|Half-Orc||30 feet||20 feet|
|Halfling||20 feet||15 feet|
|Human||30 feet||20 feet|
|Gnome||20 feet||15 feet|
Despite being typically used for moving, a character can use their Movement Action for a variety of other tasks, including drawing or sheathing weapons, opening or closing doors or containers, picking items off the ground, readying a shield, loading crossbows, standing up from a prone position, or equipping an item from your inventory. Movement Actions are generally faster than Standard Actions.
The most common type of Standard Actions are casting spells and attacking - the bread and butter of combat. Other Standard Actions include reading scrolls, drinking potions, using spell-like abilities, channeling energy, basically all of your major combat actions. You can also substitute a Standard Action for a second Movement Action, should you need to cover more ground.
Early on in the game, Full-Round Actions aren’t too special, as your characters just aren’t talented enough to make use of that extra time. As the name implies, a Full-Round Action takes the entire round, during which the character can only take a five-foot step, perform Free Actions, or one Swift Action. They cannot make a Movement Action or Standard Action, and doing so will prevent them from taking a Full-Round Action.
About the only Full-Round Action you’ll use early on is a Charge Attack, which allows the charging character to move at double their movement speed and append their momentum with an attack.