Attacks Of Opportunity

The melee combat rules assume that combatants are actively avoiding attacks. A player doesn't have to declare anything special for his or her character to be on the defensive. Sometimes, however, a combatant in a melee lets his or her guard down, and doesn't maintain a defensive posture as usual. In this case, combatants near him or her can take advantage of this lapse in defense to attack for free. These attacks are called attacks of opportunity.

Weapon Type
A character can use a melee weapon to make attacks of opportunity whenever the conditions for such an attack are met (see Provoking an Attack of Opportunity, below). In addition, a character can make attacks of opportunity with unarmed attacks if the character's unarmed attacks count as armed (see "Armed" Unarmed Attacks).

Threatened Squares
A character threatens the squares into which he or she can make a melee attack, even when it is not the character's action. Generally, that's all squares adjacent to the character's position. An enemy that takes certain actions while in a threatened square provokes an attack of opportunity from the character. A character can only make attacks of opportunity with melee weapons, never with ranged weapons.

Provoking an Attack of Opportunity
Two actions can provoke attacks of opportunity: moving out of a threatened square, and performing an action within a threatened square that distracts from defending and lets the character's guard down.

Moving out of a Threatened Square: When a character moves out of a threatened square, that character generally provokes an attack of opportunity. There are two important exceptions, however.

A character doesn't provoke an attack of opportunity if all he or she moves is a 5-foot step, or if the character withdraws.

If the character doesn't start in a threatened square, but moves into one, the character has to stop there, or else he or she provokes an attack of opportunity as he or she leaves that square.

Performing an Action that Distracts the Character: Some actions, when performed in a threatened square, provoke attacks of opportunity because they make a character divert his or her attention from the fight at hand. Using a ranged weapon, in particular, provokes attacks of opportunity. Table: Actions in Combat notes many additional actions that provoke attacks of opportunity.

Making an Attack of Opportunity
An attack of opportunity is a single melee attack, and a character may make a number of attacks of opportunity per round equal to their Dexterity modifier (minimum 1).. A character does not have to make an attack of opportunity if he or she doesn't want to.

Actions That Provoke an Attack of Opportunity

Attack Actions Attack of Opportunity
Attack (melee) No
Attack (ranged) Yes
Attack (unarmed) Yes
Attack (aid another) No
Bull rush (attack) No
Escape a grapple No
Feint (see the Bluff skill) No
Ready (triggers an attack action) No
Make a dying character stable Yes
Attack a weapon Yes
Attack an object Maybe
Start/complete full-round action Varies
Total defense No
Use a skill that takes an attack action Usually
Move Actions Attack of Opportunity
Move your speed Yes
Use a piece of equipment No
Climb (one-quarter speed) No
Climb, accelerated (one-half speed) No
Crawl No
Draw a weapon No
Holster a weapon Yes
Move a heavy object Yes
Open a door No
Pick up an object Yes
Retrieve a stored object Yes
Stand up from prone, sitting, or kneeling No
Swim No
Use a skill that takes a move action Usually
Full-Round Actions Attack of Opportunity
Bull rush (charge) No
Charge No
Coup de grace Yes
Full attack No
Overrun (charge) No
Run Yes
Withdraw No
Extinguish flames No
Use a skill that takes a full round Usually
Free Actions Attack of Opportunity
Drop an object No
Drop to prone, sitting, or kneeling No
Speak No
Action Type Varies Attack of Opportunity
Disarm Yes
Grapple Yes
Load a weapon Yes
Trip an opponent No
Use a feat Varies
No Action Attack of Opportunity
Delay No
5-foot step No
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