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So, it's been clear that AoOs are not going to be the default for everyone. Fighters can have them, other classes may be able to gain access, and enemies may vary. However, from what has been revealed so far, I have concerns that the implementation is too similar and doesn't offer any improvement considering the opportunity that a second edition has to improve it.
My two questions are, will players be aware of who can perform AoOs, or will it be unknown? And will the "five-foot-step" still ignore AoOs?
If players are aware, my concern is that, much as I experience in my current games, AoOs will never happen. From my understanding the five-foot-step still exists, as an action admittedly but if it still avoids AoOs (and what other use would it have with AoOs being limited now instead of default?). While yes, players and certain enemies may choose to be risky and provoke, my experience is that provoking rarely happens when a players and reasonably smart enemies can take an action to be safe. In this situation, it becomes almost a nonability, you don't actually use AoOs the ability just makes you stickier and costs action economy of retreating opponents as per old system (see below)
If players are unaware, it would make sense, you don't necessarily know a creature's ability until it happens. However now you play the paranoia game. In my opinion, players do not like 'Gotchas' and after the first couple times it happens, will probably err to the side of caution and five-foot-step anyway when it seems likely an enemy can AoO. Even worse, a GM is aware of what players can AoO and, willingly or not, may metagame the system to the players disadvantage. So we end up with players still safe-stepping to avoid, possibly sourly because it might be a wasted safe-step, and a set-up that favors GMs who cannot resist the meta-game.
In current Pathfinder, Attacks of Opportunity serve the niche of being a base way to be 'Sticky' and threatening. It allows the fighter to close with an enemy and that enemy suddenly finds it trickier to leave the melee and target the squishy. Most often this manifests in taking a five-foot-step to slowly position or cast a spell safely, or full retreat to reposition in melee with the squishy who now finds themselves in the threatening spot. The attack isn't often actually taken, unless investment has been built up to allow it anyway. It provides the stickiness but at the cost of each turn, reminding players about the potential AoO, dancing around, in general making things complicated and messing up the smooth flow of combat. My concern is that, even limiting this ability, enough people CAN have it, or the threat of enemies POSSIBLY having it, will end up with it still playing the same and I would like combat smoother than that.
I shall see what full playtest reveals. However, currently it is sounding like it either needs to be more threatening (remove five-foot-step safety option) or simplified to what the end results will be with the current system (Make movement or spell-casting starting within the Fighter's range cost one additional action from being harried, perhaps costing the fighter one of their actions to manifest the ability). Or, follow both paths as either separate options or options that can stack so the fighter can become very very sticky. If moving costs two actions AND still provokes, that enemy is very stuck, which would be a nice path for Fighters to really have.
Bit of a ramble. But I really want paizo to simplify and improve Melee Stickiness and Threaten abilities without the five-foot-step/AoO setup of the current edition.