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I never really got why you can't trip flying creatures


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

With the exception of creatures with perfect maneuverability, I never understood why flying creatures can't be tripped. I envision tripping a flying creature where the tripper would grab or using a weapon to hook onto the flying creature's leg or wing and yank them down to the ground. If one fails the trip check bad enough that'll be trip themselves it could be the fact the attempt just knocks them off balanced and they fall down to the ground as result.

Sure "tripping" the flying creature by yanking them down would be more difficult than sweeping their legs from under than them. But is it really so impossible that it can't be done, not even four or six legged creature are immune.


Sounds like reposition.


I don't know if you can make them prone off repostion. Maybe with Dirty Trick however.


Tripping a character doesn't move them toward the ground, it knocks them prone.

How, exactly, can a flying creature be prone?

Does a tripped flying creature take falling damage? Do they get a check to stay in the air?

What if two creatures were flying high in the air, and one trips the other? Does it knock them all the way to the ground? If the creatures are more than 500 ft up does the fall take more than 1 round?

Reposition is the maneuver you want for moving a creature from one space (in the air) to another space (on the ground). It won't knock them prone, but that'd be like getting two maneuvers in one.


I don't know if you can either, but the environment might. If I repositioned and enemy onto a floor with Grease already cast on it, then the enemy will needto make a save.

That's not incredibly relevant, but anyway, magical means of flying make this "trip flying creatures" weird.


I always figured one might be able to spin a flying creature around, enough so they lose their orientation and sense of direction, ie. prone. That said, I've never actually used it in a game.


If it had less than perfect maneurvability and didn't want to make the check to stay in place wouldn't it have to move or fall. Or otherwise waste its move action to stand up or fall.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Vendis wrote:
Sounds like reposition.

I didn't know that existed. But after reading it on the PFSRD, I find that's another silly maneuver, I don't understand why they can't force a move into the wall or fire. Besides without the prone condition it's like you cause them to simply just land rather then forcing them crash to the ground.

Dark Archive

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I kinda love the idea of smacking a Beholder so hard in his magical levitation gland that his eyestalks cross and he plotzes to the ground for a round...

"Ow! My gland!" <Thud>

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Quantum Steve wrote:

Tripping a character doesn't move them toward the ground, it knocks them prone.

How, exactly, can a flying creature be prone?

Does a tripped flying creature take falling damage? Do they get a check to stay in the air?

What if two creatures were flying high in the air, and one trips the other? Does it knock them all the way to the ground? If the creatures are more than 500 ft up does the fall take more than 1 round?

Reposition is the maneuver you want for moving a creature from one space (in the air) to another space (on the ground). It won't knock them prone, but that'd be like getting two maneuvers in one.

Perhaps treat it like the flyer failed their fly check.


So what if someone who flew by means of magic (actually, it could even be Levitate, I think), is prone, in that condition by whatever means, and wants to fly up? Do they need to spend a move to stand up, then fly? Or, can they fly up, then spend a move to stand up (thus having the prone condition while being floating in midair)? Do they even need to spend the action at all, or does flying away from the ground remove the prone condition automatically?


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I've always treated it like Stalling or failing to maintain minimum forward movement was done in 3.5.

3.5SRD wrote:
If a flying creature fails to maintain its minimum forward speed, it must land at the end of its movement. If it is too high above the ground to land, it falls straight down, descending 150 feet in the first round of falling. If this distance brings it to the ground, it takes falling damage. If the fall doesn’t bring the creature to the ground, it must spend its next turn recovering from the stall. It must succeed on a DC 20 Reflex save to recover. Otherwise it falls another 300 feet. If it hits the ground, it takes falling damage. Otherwise, it has another chance to recover on its next turn.

I just replace the reflex save with a fly check and make it a move action rather than a full round.

Liberty's Edge

Suzaku wrote:
I envision tripping a flying creature where the tripper would grab or using a weapon to hook onto the flying creature's leg or wing and yank them down to the ground.

That sounds more like a grapple.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
RedDogMT wrote:
Suzaku wrote:
I envision tripping a flying creature where the tripper would grab or using a weapon to hook onto the flying creature's leg or wing and yank them down to the ground.
That sounds more like a grapple.

To trip someone standing you could sweep their legs or use your weapon to hook onto their legs and pull them out from under them.


A lot of this shouldn't have a written rule at all. I would never go to the book to find out how to trip a flying creature.

I would ask the player to describe what he is trying to do and then I would tell him what to roll.


I just looked over at my girlfriend, who has never played. Never looked at the rules. Could care less what a d12 is and refers to Pathfinder as my "monster game".

I read the name of this thread to her. She understands with no details why you can't trip a flying creature. I'm going with RedDog on this.

Liberty's Edge

Suzaku wrote:
RedDogMT wrote:
Suzaku wrote:
I envision tripping a flying creature where the tripper would grab or using a weapon to hook onto the flying creature's leg or wing and yank them down to the ground.
That sounds more like a grapple.
To trip someone standing you could sweep their legs or use your weapon to hook onto their legs and pull them out from under them.

So, your explanation has changed, but you are leaving out one element. A trip maneuver is effective because once you remove the target's balance, gravity does it's part in bringing the target to the ground. A flying creature is able to counter gravity.

The only argument you could make for tripping a flying creature is that it may cause them to become unbalanced during their flight, but it's not worth it make a rule to account for that. If there was, the devs would have done so.

If you want to bring a flying creature to the ground with a CMB maneuver, performing a grapple & move, reposition, or a drag is the way to go.


I think there were rules for tripping flying creatures in 3.5. Not sure though, and if that's the case, I dunno why they didn't make it to Pathfinder.

I suppose it'd be a different effect that just shared its mechanics with the trip combat maneuver. Like, hurt it's wings or disrupt its flight somehow. It was just called "tripping" because it'd be too much of a niche scenario to warrant its own combat maneuver and apropriate feats.

In Pathfinder, the closest thing I can think off of the top of my head right now is the Gunslinger ability to force flying enemies to make Fly checks or fall 20ft.

tl;dr: There is no particular reason. It's just semantics.


**THREAD NECRO ALERT***

What if you had Ki Throw?

That seems like it would allow you to take a flying creature out of the air above you and slam them prone into the ground beside you.


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To the OP: Because Paizo does not want tripping to be a thing. That's why it's hidden behind two feats, and why half the critters in the Bestiary either get huge bonuses against it or are simply outright immune. Making flying creatures immune, too, is par for the course.

Shadow Lodge

3 people marked this as a favorite.

To Kirth: OP has moved on in his life to better things. Recommend you do the same. :)


This has become an issue in our game with an alchemist throwing force bombs. (Ref. save or fall prone)

How do these bombs affect creatures that can't be tripped? (snakes, flying creatuers, oozes, etc...) We've been ruling that it disorients or knocks them on their back, and they need a move action to recover, but we'd be happier with some official word on the matter.


As a GM I've always ruled that things that cause prone against tripping immune or flying creatures simply don't work. On the flying creatures I might have them make the fly check to stay flying as though they crashed into something.

But like a snake, a snake is just a snake. There is no "prone" for a snake. Nothing happens.

As to original purpose of the thread, they did finally make a feat that allows you to perform a ranged trip attack against a flying creature called Ace Trip. It's absolutely abysmal, but it exists.


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Snakes can be flipped over on their back, needing an action to 're-orient'. Whether this qualifies as 'prone' or not is certainly debatable.

That said, all of the creatures I listed very specifically are immune to 'tripping' not immune to the 'prone' condition. Why didn't Paizo simply just make them immune to the prone condition if that's what they intended?

Dark Archive

On the one hand, the idea of tripping someone who's flying is kind of silly. I mean, really? You're going to try to trip Storm of the x-men when she's hovering in the air? And you expect it to do something useful?

On the other hand, I can see ways you could trip a flier. Especially one who uses wings to fly.

On the third hand, what if said flier is 15 or 20 feet in the air? How do you plan to trip them?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Kahel Stormbender wrote:


On the other hand, I can see ways you could trip a flier. Especially one who uses wings to fly.

Me too, but as RedDog posted a few years ago before this thread was necro'd, that looks a bit more like a grapple than a trip. In fact, that's how I ran it when a monk character managed to get on a swooping wyvern and succeeded at a grapple check to foul its wings.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Really there ought to be a different combat maneuver that helps bring a flyer to the ground. Tripping a creature with legs is not the same thing as bringing down a flyer, winged or not. The problem ofc is we now have years of legacy of it being comparably difficult to bring a flyer down to earth (the gunslingers targeted shot at wings for instance) and it being comparably easy to say aloft (the non scaling fly check dc to stay in the air after being attacked for instance).


I mean, you can always use the reposition maneuver on them assuming you can reach them.


Kolokotroni wrote:
Really there ought to be a different combat maneuver that helps bring a flyer to the ground. Tripping a creature with legs is not the same thing as bringing down a flyer, winged or not. The problem ofc is we now have years of legacy of it being comparably difficult to bring a flyer down to earth (the gunslingers targeted shot at wings for instance) and it being comparably easy to say aloft (the non scaling fly check dc to stay in the air after being attacked for instance).

The other problem is the associated pile of feat you would need to take in order to not suck at such maneuver.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

In the X-men animated television shows, we see Storm (and other supernatural fliers) getting knocked out of the air numerous times.


Nicos wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:
Really there ought to be a different combat maneuver that helps bring a flyer to the ground. Tripping a creature with legs is not the same thing as bringing down a flyer, winged or not. The problem ofc is we now have years of legacy of it being comparably difficult to bring a flyer down to earth (the gunslingers targeted shot at wings for instance) and it being comparably easy to say aloft (the non scaling fly check dc to stay in the air after being attacked for instance).
The other problem is the associated pile of feat you would need to take in order to not suck at such maneuver.

I so rarely see combat maneuvers done at my table, it would preferable to just remove the "Improved" versions of feats and just make maneuvers not provoke. Upgrade the "Greater" versions of the feats to give a +4 bonus to the maneuver and sometimes cause it to provoke from allies (depending on the normal greater version). Also remove stupid Combat Expertise as a requirement for them, damn feat tax.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Claxon wrote:
Nicos wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:
Really there ought to be a different combat maneuver that helps bring a flyer to the ground. Tripping a creature with legs is not the same thing as bringing down a flyer, winged or not. The problem ofc is we now have years of legacy of it being comparably difficult to bring a flyer down to earth (the gunslingers targeted shot at wings for instance) and it being comparably easy to say aloft (the non scaling fly check dc to stay in the air after being attacked for instance).
The other problem is the associated pile of feat you would need to take in order to not suck at such maneuver.
I so rarely see combat maneuvers done at my table, it would preferable to just remove the "Improved" versions of feats and just make maneuvers not provoke. Upgrade the "Greater" versions of the feats to give a +4 bonus to the maneuver and sometimes cause it to provoke from allies (depending on the normal greater version). Also remove stupid Combat Expertise as a requirement for them, damn feat tax.

In my last game, I used maneuvers no less than four times: once when a bunch of trolls reached through an open doorway and dragged two PCs into the courtyard, and another time when a swarm demon reached through another open doorway and dragged a pair of PCs into a warehouse.


Ravingdork wrote:
Claxon wrote:
Nicos wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:
Really there ought to be a different combat maneuver that helps bring a flyer to the ground. Tripping a creature with legs is not the same thing as bringing down a flyer, winged or not. The problem ofc is we now have years of legacy of it being comparably difficult to bring a flyer down to earth (the gunslingers targeted shot at wings for instance) and it being comparably easy to say aloft (the non scaling fly check dc to stay in the air after being attacked for instance).
The other problem is the associated pile of feat you would need to take in order to not suck at such maneuver.
I so rarely see combat maneuvers done at my table, it would preferable to just remove the "Improved" versions of feats and just make maneuvers not provoke. Upgrade the "Greater" versions of the feats to give a +4 bonus to the maneuver and sometimes cause it to provoke from allies (depending on the normal greater version). Also remove stupid Combat Expertise as a requirement for them, damn feat tax.
In my last game, I used maneuvers no less than four times: once when a bunch of trolls reached through an open doorway and dragged two PCs into the courtyard, and another time when a swarm demon reached through another open doorway and dragged a pair of PCs into a warehouse.

I always use maneuvers as GM. They are just tons of fun, but the players rarely use them unless they specific build for them.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

It's hilarious when you telekinetically disarm the gunslinger.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Claxon wrote:
Nicos wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:
Really there ought to be a different combat maneuver that helps bring a flyer to the ground. Tripping a creature with legs is not the same thing as bringing down a flyer, winged or not. The problem ofc is we now have years of legacy of it being comparably difficult to bring a flyer down to earth (the gunslingers targeted shot at wings for instance) and it being comparably easy to say aloft (the non scaling fly check dc to stay in the air after being attacked for instance).
The other problem is the associated pile of feat you would need to take in order to not suck at such maneuver.
I so rarely see combat maneuvers done at my table, it would preferable to just remove the "Improved" versions of feats and just make maneuvers not provoke. Upgrade the "Greater" versions of the feats to give a +4 bonus to the maneuver and sometimes cause it to provoke from allies (depending on the normal greater version). Also remove stupid Combat Expertise as a requirement for them, damn feat tax.

This is part of a fundamental flaw in the system. The opportunity cost of mundane options is WAAAY too high. It shouldn't take so much investment to do combat maneuvers.

A halfway descent start is to set combat expertise and power attack on fire and push them over a cliff and ditch the improved feats, but its only a start. A systemic change is really whats needed.


Kolokotroni wrote:


This is part of a fundamental flaw in the system. The opportunity cost of mundane options is WAAAY too high. It shouldn't take so much investment to do combat maneuvers.

A halfway descent start is to set combat expertise and power attack on fire and push them over a cliff and ditch the improved feats, but its only a start. A systemic change is really whats needed.

"combat maneuver unchained" - that's an splatbook I would buy.


Nicos wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Claxon wrote:
Nicos wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:
Really there ought to be a different combat maneuver that helps bring a flyer to the ground. Tripping a creature with legs is not the same thing as bringing down a flyer, winged or not. The problem ofc is we now have years of legacy of it being comparably difficult to bring a flyer down to earth (the gunslingers targeted shot at wings for instance) and it being comparably easy to say aloft (the non scaling fly check dc to stay in the air after being attacked for instance).
The other problem is the associated pile of feat you would need to take in order to not suck at such maneuver.
I so rarely see combat maneuvers done at my table, it would preferable to just remove the "Improved" versions of feats and just make maneuvers not provoke. Upgrade the "Greater" versions of the feats to give a +4 bonus to the maneuver and sometimes cause it to provoke from allies (depending on the normal greater version). Also remove stupid Combat Expertise as a requirement for them, damn feat tax.
In my last game, I used maneuvers no less than four times: once when a bunch of trolls reached through an open doorway and dragged two PCs into the courtyard, and another time when a swarm demon reached through another open doorway and dragged a pair of PCs into a warehouse.
I always use maneuvers as GM. They are just tons of fun, but the players rarely use them unless they specific build for them.

They're great for GM characters, but suck for PC characters due to the opportunity cost (as mentioned above).

Ravingdork wrote:
In my last game, I used maneuvers no less than four times: once when a bunch of trolls reached through an open doorway and dragged two PCs into the courtyard, and another time when a swarm demon reached through another open doorway and dragged a pair of PCs into a warehouse.

I'm not saying no one uses them (though I was saying they almost never see use in my games), it's just that due to feat investment cost and the AoO provoked without the feats PCs rarely use them. They're often bad options because of the required investment.

I think we'd see them used a lot more if they just didn't provoke for being used.


One thing to keep in mind is the power maneuvers leverage, especially when they're reliable. If you can reliably disarm, no foe who relies on manufactured weapons can contest you. If you can trip reliably, your opponent heavily loses on action economy. Grapple, reposition & the like are less devastating. So while I too would like maneuvers to be more usable, there should be some way to dampen their effects.


There are plenty of ways to dampen the effects of maneuvers already baked into the game.

A large part of which is non-humanoid opponents rarely use weapons and once you hit higher levels many also fly (magically or non-magically). These two things negate the only two "good" combat maneuvers pretty regularly. Not to mention NPCs should often have backup weapons, in the same way PCs should often have backup weapons. Not only that, if you run NPCs the way I run most melee character you have a weapon cord attached to your melee weapon. Sure, you have to use an action to retrieve your weapon but that's just so that disarm isn't completely negated by a cheap mundane item.

If you're running a campaign which primarily feature only weapon using enemies and/or non-flying opponents you might consider gating the abilities behind feats, but otherwise they often make for poor character investments.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Ranishe wrote:
Grapple [...] are less devastating. So while I too would like maneuvers to be more usable, there should be some way to dampen their effects.

Grapple is for casters. First round they're stuck making multiple concentration checks for anything. Second they're completely shut-down. Just did it last night with a Core Monk.

Dark Archive

But wouldn't a Stunning Fist have been just as effective at shutting them down? Casters typically have carp for fort saves after all.


Kahel Stormbender wrote:
But wouldn't a Stunning Fist have been just as effective at shutting them down? Casters typically have carp for fort saves after all.

Monk's typically have crap DCs for their abilities, it's often a crap shoot if it will ever actually work. Grapple is much more reliable.

I went through a whole campaign of Rise of the Rune Lords with a friend playing an unchained monk who focused on strength and wisdom. They never once had a stunning fist work. Not once.

Also: I would have thought caster would have Koi for saves.

Dark Archive

Claxon wrote:
Kahel Stormbender wrote:
But wouldn't a Stunning Fist have been just as effective at shutting them down? Casters typically have carp for fort saves after all.

Monk's typically have crap DCs for their abilities, it's often a crap shoot if it will ever actually work. Grapple is much more reliable.

I went through a whole campaign of Rise of the Rune Lords with a friend playing an unchained monk who focused on strength and wisdom. They never once had a stunning fist work. Not once.

Also: I would have thought caster would have Koi for saves.

Where I've used stunning fist to great effect. Granted, it doesn't always work. But managing to stun an enemy, at which point someone else in the group slapped manacles on the enemy was rather amusing. Especially since it was someone we were suppose to capture alive.


I know this is a necroed thread, but...

This is such a strange topic! I read the title, and immediately thought "Wait, they can't be?"

I'm sure that if birds had language like we do, they'd have a word for knocking a wing into something during flight, trying to take off before fully releasing a perch from a talon, and the bird equivalent of tripping over an uneven paving stone -- "Ugh, I woke up on the wrong side of the nest this morning and <worded> over a bubble of cold air on my flight to work!" And surely losing one's balance or getting knocked off-kilter during flight is much more dangerous than doing so on the ground.

I guess fans can quibble over whether that <word> ought to be properly translated as 'trip,' and whether it's worth noting how bird-tripping works in the official rules. But PF is the only ttrpg with a separate skill for flying and only for flying, that I'm aware of. So surely, wondering why birds can't trip is a reasonable point of curiosity?


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Acrobatics and Fly really should be the same skill. And yeah, it's just short of spring here and yesterday I saw one bird chasing off another from their favoured tree, with use of what I'm fairly sure would be a trip maneuver performed in the air.


Tequila Sunrise wrote:

I know this is a necroed thread, but...

This is such a strange topic! I read the title, and immediately thought "Wait, they can't be?"

I'm sure that if birds had language like we do, they'd have a word for knocking a wing into something during flight, trying to take off before fully releasing a perch from a talon, and the bird equivalent of tripping over an uneven paving stone -- "Ugh, I woke up on the wrong side of the nest this morning and <worded> over a bubble of cold air on my flight to work!" And surely losing one's balance or getting knocked off-kilter during flight is much more dangerous than doing so on the ground.

I guess fans can quibble over whether that <word> ought to be properly translated as 'trip,' and whether it's worth noting how bird-tripping works in the official rules. But PF is the only ttrpg with a separate skill for flying and only for flying, that I'm aware of. So surely, wondering why birds can't trip is a reasonable point of curiosity?

Yea, it is weird. Weirder when you consider the fact that 3.5 does allow you to "trip" flying creatures, and it works pretty much how you just described, but Pathfinder explicitly changed it because apparently flying creatures are incapable of losing their balance?

Since you're paying attention to this thread (maybe?), and my memory is failing me, how does 4e handle tripping of flying creatures?
(I remember how 4e handled measuring distance for flying creatures, and I liked it a heck of a lot more than 3e's method due to the simplicity in use. I don't remember how 4e handled tripping in flight, though.)


It should certainly be possible to use a combat maneuver to hook a wing or something and knock/pull a flying creature to the ground. The only reason I can think of why that's not possible is that they used the word "trip". If the name of the maneuver was "knock prone" then it would probably be possible.

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