Each round represents approximately 6 seconds in the game world. A round presents an opportunity for each character involved in a combat to take an action. Each round’s activity begins with the character with the highest initiative result and then proceeds, in order, from there. Each round of a combat uses the same initiative order. When a character’s turn comes up in the initiative sequence, that character performs his entire round’s worth of actions. For almost all purposes, there is no relevance to the end of a round or the beginning of a round. A round can be a segment of game time starting with the first character to act and ending with the last, but it usually means a span of time from one round to the same initiative count in the next round. Effects that last a certain number of rounds end just before the same initiative count that they began on.
An action’s type essentially tells you how long the action takes to perform (within the framework of the 6-second combat round) and how movement is treated. There are four types of actions: standard actions, move actions, full-round actions, and free actions. In a normal round, you can perform a standard action and a move action, or you can perform a full-round action. You can also perform one or more free actions. You can always take a move action in place of a standard action. In some situations (such as in a surprise round), you may be limited to taking only a single move action or standard action.
A standard action allows you to do something, including making an attack or cast a spell.
A move action allows you to move your speed or perform an action that takes a similar amount of time. You may take a move action in place of a standard action. If you move no distance in a round (because you have performed a full-round action or used your move action for a move-equivalent action), you may take a single 5-foot step before, during, or after the action.
A full-round action consumes all your effort during a round. The only movement you can take during a full-round action is a 5-foot step before, during, or after the action. You can also perform free, swift, or immediate actions. Some full-round actions do not allow you to take a 5-foot step. Some full-round actions can be taken as standard actions, but only in situations where you are limited to performing only a standard action during your round.
Free actions consume a very small amount of time and effort. You can perform one or more free actions while taking another action normally, within reasonable limits.
A swift action takes only slightly more time than a free action. You can perform a single swift action in a round while taking another action normally. If you choose to take an immediate action on your turn it counts as a swift action.
An immediate action is much like a swift action, except that it can be done out of turn, usually in response to the action of another creature or a sudden situation. Attacks of opportunity, certain ‘reflexive’ spells (generally defensive) and similar effects may be used as immediate actions. The Combat Reflexes feat has been changed so that it no longer affects the number of attacks of opportunity you may take in a round, but instead increases the number of immediate actions you may take in a round.
Not an Action
Some activities are so minor they are not considered even free actions. They take literally no time at all and are done as part of another action.