Attacks of Opportunity

Sometimes a combatant in a melee lets her guard down or takes a reckless action. In this case, combatants near her can take advantage of her lapse in defense to attack her for free. These free attacks are called attacks of opportunity.

Threatened Area

You threaten all areas into which you can make a melee attack, even when it is not your turn.

Reach Weapons

  • Most creatures of Medium or smaller size have a reach of only 5 feet. This means that they can make melee attacks only against creatures up to 5 feet away. However, Small and Medium creatures wielding reach weapons, such as a bardiche, have a reach of 10 feet and threaten as far out. In addition, most creatures larger than Medium have a natural reach of 10 feet or more (which can be extended even further by reach weapons).

Provoking an Attack of Opportunity

Two kinds of actions can provoke attacks of opportunity: moving out of a threatened area and performing certain actions within a threatened area. See Table: Actions in Combat.

Table: Actions in Combat
Standard Actions Attack of Opportunity
Attack (melee) No
Attack (ranged) Yes
Attack (unarmed) Yes
Activate a magic item other than a potion or oil No
Cast a spell (1 standard action casting time) Yes
Channel energy No
Drink a potion or apply an oil Yes
Escape a grapple No
Read a scroll Yes
Total defense No
Use extraordinary ability No
Use skill that takes 1 action Usually
Use spell-like ability Yes
Use supernatural ability No
Move Actions Attack of Opportunity
Move Yes
Draw a weapon No
Pick up an item Yes
Stand up from prone Yes
Retrieve a stored item Yes
Full-Round Actions Attack of Opportunity
Full attack No
Charge No
Prepare to throw splash weapon Yes
Run Yes
Use skill that takes 1 round Usually
Swift Actions Attack of Opportunity
Cast a quickened spell No

Making an Attack of Opportunity

An attack of opportunity is a single melee attack, and most characters can only make one per round. You make your attack of opportunity at your normal attack bonus, even if you’ve already attacked in the round.

Combat Reflexes and Additional Attacks of Opportunity

  • If you have the Combat Reflexes feat, you can add your Dexterity modifier to the number of attacks of opportunity you can make in a round. This feat does not let you make more than one attack for a given opportunity, but if the same opponent provokes two attacks of opportunity from you, you could make two separate attacks of opportunity (since each one represents a different opportunity). All these attacks are at your full normal attack bonus.
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