21st Century D&D

Action Point Costs

Combatants have a certain number of AP per round, usually 5. The more AP you have, the more you can do on your turn in the round. This page lists actions which can be taken in combat and their point costs.

In all cases, all items or tools operated on during an action must be prepared and at-hand when the combatant acts. Thus, poison cannot be applied to a weapon without having first retrieved and unsealed the container of poison and drawn the weapon in question.

With regard to extending an action over multiple rounds: if an action requires more AP than a combatant’s total AP, such that the only way it could be done is by “spilling over” into following rounds, then this spillover is acceptable, with the spilled-over AP being subtracted from the following round’s normal amount. However, if the action does not in itself take up more AP than one round’s worth, the combatant cannot split the action up. They must take the action all in one turn.

Actions Which Cost No AP

Includes dropping an object; changing the direction you are facing; dismissing a cast spell before it is discharged.

Activate Item: 1 AP

Includes speaking a command word, pushing a button, or rubbing a ring, as well as employing any magic wand, staff, rod, or similar device.

“Item” includes any object, magic or otherwise, which must somehow be started up or stimulated before use. The required time includes any steps the item itself goes through when activated, such as reshaping or changing colors, but does not include any time the item might need to gather energy or otherwise reach peak performance.

Adjust Object for Use: 1 AP

Includes rotating a shield and gripping the handle, positioning a compass, or focusing with a magnifying glass. Crossbows do not need to be adjusted for use. Shields must be adjusted whether picked up or unslung from a belt.

In general, this action refers to any process of orienting or righting any object which, once picked up, still needs to be positioned properly before use.

Apply Fluid to Object: 5 AP

Includes applying poison to a weapon, spreading glue on a surface, or oiling a rope. Both the fluid and the object must already be in hand. In the case of spreading fluid on a surface, 5 square feet can be covered; in the case of applying fluid to a rope or similar, 10 linear feet can be covered.

Attack: 2 AP

This is the amount of time which one must spend focusing on the enemy’s defense in order to take advantage of an opening and attempt an attack.

Normally a combatant only gets one attack per round. They cannot attack twice even if they have 4 AP; even though the time is available, they are not skilled enough to perceive a second suitable opening in enemy defenses.

More skilled or dangerous combatant, such as high-level fighters and creatures with special anatomies, make more attacks within the 2 AP time frame. If such a combatant has an odd number of attacks, e.g. 3 per round, then the first AP allows the minority of the attacks (e.g. 1) and the second AP allows the remaining attacks (e.g. 2).

In the case of a bow or sling which has already been aimed, the combatant may attack with the weapon at any point in the same or following round: they need not necessarily use the next 2 AP they have. If they have not fired by the end of the following round, they must aim again before firing.

Awaken Other Quietly: 3 AP

This refers to waking a creature quietly, by shaking them awake.

Less AP can be spent, but the result will be uncertain. 2 AP gives a 50% chance of success (3-4 on d4), and 1 AP gives a 25% chance (4 on d4). Failure means the time has been wasted.

Awaken Other Noisily: 1 AP

This refers to waking a creature by shouting at them.

Awaken Self: 4 AP

This refers to going from complete sleep to active, effective awareness. Once complete, the creature is entitled to their full normal Armor Class, and can take other actions as desired.

Change Form: 4 AP

Includes supernatural abilities and the druidic ability to turn into animals.

If changing into a larger shape, any armor worn will have to save vs. crushing blow or be damaged. Other held items are dropped; worn items meld into the shapechanger’s form.

Change Lantern Illumination: 1 AP

This refers to turning a lantern’s key to lower the level of illumination one step, from full to dim or dim to off.

Close or Lock: 2 AP

Includes closing a buckle or doing up a drawstring, such as for a saddlebag or backpack, as well as locking a box or chest, locking or barring a door, or tying shut a scroll case.

Concentrate: 4 AP

This usually refers to concentrating on a spell which requires active effort to maintain.

Discharge Spell: 1 AP

Once a spell has been cast, it must be discharged the following round or it is lost and wasted. During the round the caster is holding onto the cast spell before discharge, he or she is concentrating. The only action which can be taken is a 5 foot step.

Dismount: 3 AP

Includes dismounting from horses and similarly-sized animals, including mules, donkeys, pegasi, and griffons.

Dismiss Ongoing Spell: 1 AP

This is the cost to dismiss a spell which is already ongoing in the world, such as Charm Person or Wall of Fire. The caster does not need to have line or sight or be anywhere near the spell to dismiss it.

Draw Weapon, Heavy One-Handed: 2 AP

Refers to drawing any one-handed weapon not called out under “Draw weapon, light one-handed.”

Draw Weapon, Light One-Handed: 1 AP

This refers to drawing any of: bolas, dagger, shuriken, sling, hand axe.

Draw Weapon, Two-Handed: 3 AP

This refers to all weapons which the character in question must use two-handed, even if that is not the case for others.

Drop to Ground: 1 AP

This is only the time it takes to throw oneself to the ground, such as to get behind cover or present a smaller target.

In order to actually perform any actions once on the ground, including reconnaissance, the character must spend 1 AP to reorient themself first.

Eat or Drink: 1 AP

This is the cost to consume one ounce of food or two ounces of liquid. A potion is normally 8 ounces, and thus costs 4 AP to consume (it must be completely consumed before having an effect.)

Extinguish Candle: 1 AP

Includes all methods of putting out a candle, including blowing it out, pinching it out, or using a snuffer.

Extinguish Torch in Water: 1 AP

Extinguish Torch Physically: 2 AP

In this case, the torch must smothered with dirt or wet cloth. Can be stamped out, but torch stake will break.

Light Torch: 3 AP

The torch must already have fuel in it, and the means to light it (open flame, match, etc.) must already be at hand. If the fuel is waterlogged, only an open flame will light it, and the process will take double the AP.

Load and Aim Bow or Sling: 4 AP

From this cost, we can see that an ordinary combatant will have to load and aim one round, and fire the next.

The combatant can also decide to load and aim quickly, expending only 2 AP instead of 4, but the attack roll will have a -4 penalty. If the combatant has two attacks this round, they can forgo the second attack and instead load and fire in one round with no penalty.

Load Crossbow, Heavy: 11 AP

This is done by pointing the crossbow down, sinking its point into the ground to stabilize it, and then cranking until the drawstring catches on the nut, at which point it is tight enough to fire; the crossbow is then lifted and the bolt is inserted (the last 1 AP of the cost.) The weapon can be fired as soon as loading is completed, if sufficient AP remain.

Load Crossbow, Light: 7 AP

This is done by bracing the crossbow against the body and cranking the cranequin until the drawstring catches on the nut, at which point it is tight enough to fire; the bolt can then be inserted (the last 1 AP of the cost.) Note that owing to its loading method, the light crossbow can be reloaded while on horseback, unlike its heavier counterpart. The weapon can be fired as soon as loading is completed, if sufficient AP remain.

Mount Animal: 4 AP

Includes dismounting from horses and similarly-sized animals, as listed under “Dismount.”

Open or unlock: 2 AP

Includes opening or unlocking a chest, box, or door, as well as unbuckling straps or untying knots that hold some item closed.

An unlocked door can be shouldered open for only 1 AP as part of moving through the hex it is in, but this means the combatant has committed to moving through the door without getting a chance to look through it.

Pick up Object: 1 or more AP

This refers to a Small or Medium humanoid picking up an object which is lying on the ground. 1 AP is required for an item up to 5 lbs; 2 AP for up to 8 pounds; 3 AP for up to 13 lbs; 4 AP for up to 21 lbs, and so on, up to the maximum weight which the combatant can carry.

Putting on Armor: 25 AP per point of Armor Class

This reflects the amount of time needed to put on and secure all the bits and pieces that go into a suit of armor. Enough of the armor can be put on with 25 AP that the character’s Armor Class is lowered by 1; thus, if time is critical, partial armor can be worn (the exact body parts covered are not important.) Remember that as the character achieves enough armoring for an AC of 7, 5, or 3, his or her AP will decrease. Thus, the requisite 25 AP will take more rounds to achieve as heavier armors approach full readiness.

An assistant can help in this process, reducing the cost per point from 25 to 15 AP. The assistant needs no special skills: they are just adding an extra pair of hands.

Pull In Rope: 1 AP per 5 feet

This refers to a character pulling a rope which is attached to some weight. This can be done as long as the rope’s weight plus the character’s carried equimnt does not exceed the character’s maximum load; if it does, then additional pullers must be employed. Each puller must be spaced ten feet apart, i.e. with one hex separating him from the pullers before and behind him.

Search Backpack: 3-4 or 5-7 AP

This refers to opening a backpack and rummaging through its contents. Even a thing which might be obvious is made more difficult to retrieve by the problem of getting it without spilling other items. The combatant makes an Intelligence check: if successful, the time is in the shorter range; if unsuccessful, use the longer range.

Searching does not include getting the backpack off the back and onto the ground (“Unsling Backpack”), opening it (“Open or unlock”), closing it once done (“Close or lock”), or putting it back on (“Sling Backpack”.) This is why it’s a good idea to carry the most important items on one’s person … which makes the question of what items go in your belt pouch an important one indeed.

Search Saddlebag: 1-2 or 3-4 AP

Unlike backpacks, saddlebags do not need to be removed from their carrier to be searched: they are designed to be accessed either from the mount or while standing next to it. Otherwise the rules are the same as for searching a backpack.

Stow Item at Waist: 2 AP

Stow Item at Shoulder: 3 AP

Stow or Retrieve Pocketed or Tied Item: 1 to 3 AP

Refers to taking an item out of, or replacing it into, its storage place in one’s pockets or convenient (non-hidden) folds of one’s clothing, as well as breaking off items tied to one’s person by a string or strip of leather. This action obviously requires a free hand.

Getting access to these items requires digging around in clothing, adjusting oneself, and shifting held or carried objects; the more things to dig through, the slower retrieval gets, and so the AP cost depends on how encumbered a character is.

If the character’s encumbrance penalty is 0, this action requires 1 AP; encumbrance penalty -1 or -2, and this action requires 2 AP; -3 or higher, and this action requires 3 AP.

Speak: variable AP

This refers to shouted communication while taking the time to ensure the words are heard accurately over the noise of battle. The cost depends on how far the recipient is from the speaker.

Within 1 hex: 1 AP per 8 words Within 2 hexes: 1 AP per 6 words Within 5 hexes: 1 AP per 4 words Within 9 hexes: 1 AP per 2 words Within 12 hexes: 1 AP per word

Beyond 12 hexes (60 feet), one cannot make oneself heard over the din of combat.

Stand from Laying Position: 2 AP

Time needed to get up and into a fighting stance.

Stand from Sitting Position: 1 AP

Time needed to get up and into a fighting stance.

If seated in a chair, the combatant can spend an additional 1 AP to take the chair in hand as an improvised weapon (may require both hands, if chair is heavy.)

Strap Shield to Arm: 10 AP

With an attendant, time is reduced to 7 AP. As with putting on armor, the attendant needs no special skill, only both hands.

The difference between strapping a shield and merely grasping it is that if a combatant holding a shield takes a hit which causes a bleeding wound, they will drop the shield.

Tie Rope: 5 AP

This refers to tying a rope around a person or long rigid object (tree, column, post) such that it will bear weight. Certain sage skills allow this task to be accomplished faster.

Touch Ally: 1 AP

This refers to discharging a touch spell on a creature which is willing to receive it.

Touch Enemy: 2 AP

This refers to discharging a touch spell on an unwilling creature; it is a type of attack, and thus requires the same amount of time as one.

Unsling Backpack: 4 or 5 AP

Time necessary to shrug out of the backpack and get it down in front of the combatant while remaining aware of the combat situation. If the combatant’s hands are not free, unslinging a backpack requires 5 AP. If at least one hand is free, it is only 4 AP.

Unstrap Shield from Arm: 3 AP

Unsling Shield from Shoulder: 2 AP

This is the time to remove a shield from a shoulder belt. Remember that gripping it for combat-readiness requires an additional 1 AP (“Adjust object for use”.)

Untie Rope: 3 AP

The opposite of Tie Rope. The character finishes this action with the rope in one hand.


Obediah the assassin wants to get his shield off his back and defend himself with it. Taking the shield off is “Unsling Shield from Shoulder”: 2 AP Righting the shield and gripping it firmly is “Adjust object for use”: 1 AP

Verm the thief wants to use his sling in combat. He can draw bullets one at a time to keep his off hand free once the sling is aimed, or he could take a quantity of bullets in his off hand, and save the AP cost to retrieve one each time, at the cost of not being able to keep that hand empty. Loading the sling is not considered discretely from aiming the sling, which costs 4 AP. If he has 2 more AP he can fire immediately; otherwise he must fire on his next turn. When the turn comes, he needn’t fire immediately – he can do other actions first – but if he doesn’t fire this round he’ll have to aim again.