Clarification on attack of opportunity on an opponent behind a closed door


General Discussion (Prerelease)


My campaign was brought to a standstill tonight because of the following scenario:

-Enemy is holding an improvised grenade weapon
-Enemy uses move action to open a door in front of him, then standard action to toss the item at a PC in front of him.

I ruled that no attack of opportunity was allowed for the PC, even though ranged weapons within threat range normally allow AoO, since:

-The opponent had total cover from the PC before the door was opened
-The PC didn't know the opponent was there
-Opening a door does not provoke an AoO
-Any kind of cover does not allow for an AoO
-

PFRPG Beta, pg. 134 wrote:
Remember that even actions that normally provoke attacks of opportunity may have exceptions to this rule.

The player (who wasn't even the PC in question] argued that there should be an AoO, since the PC now knew the enemy was there after the door was opened.

This small issue ended up stopping the game for a good 15 minutes, as the player in question wouldn't let the issue go, even though everyone else at the table (even the player controlling the PC in question) agreed with me. What's your opinion? Did I make the right call? Is there a rule or concept I'm missing? Thanks.


I guess you've arrived at a classic case of Logic vs The Rules ;). Keep in mind, though, that attacks of opportunity are an abstraction, a simple way to simulate distraction in combat. In order to provide a consistent gaming experience, I would have gone with the rules, as follows:

- The act that provokes AoO is the throwing of the grenade (or whatever). The door being open or closed is irrelevant to the question.

- The only (rules) explanation for not allowing your player an AoO in this situation would be that the assailant has at least partial cover.

- So, it all boils down to: How far did he open that door? If it was thrown open completely, then the player should have been allowed to take an AoO, IMO; if the attacker just opened it a little bit to throw his missile, then no AoO.

That's how I'd handle it, YMMV. The really important thing is that you didn't let this clog up your game session for (too) long :).


Although I didn't mention it in the game until after the event, the intent was for the enemy to open the door wide enough to see the PC relatively well (partial cover most likely), and toss the improvised grenade at him. I probably should have made that more clear, which is my fault, but this information was unfortunately lost (or ignored) in the deluge of protests and rule quotes that followed.

I also feel that the opening of the door and "surprising" whatever is on the other side would allow for a "free" attack by the door-opener -- for example, I would grant a rogue a sneak attack in this case. Once the door is open, the creature on the other side is fully aware of the opener, and no sneak attack/other action would be allowed.

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, LO Special Edition, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Almagest wrote:

Although I didn't mention it in the game until after the event, the intent was for the enemy to open the door wide enough to see the PC relatively well (partial cover most likely), and toss the improvised grenade at him. I probably should have made that more clear, which is my fault, but this information was unfortunately lost (or ignored) in the deluge of protests and rule quotes that followed.

I also feel that the opening of the door and "surprising" whatever is on the other side would allow for a "free" attack by the door-opener -- for example, I would grant a rogue a sneak attack in this case. Once the door is open, the creature on the other side is fully aware of the opener, and no sneak attack/other action would be allowed.

If this was a surprise round and the person who could have AoO against the person with the grenade was surpised, he does not get an attack of oportunity.

In gerneral though I would have allowed spot or listen rolls to not be surprised and those who made the roll could react in the surprised round.

Remember in a surprise round you can either do a mov action or standard action, you can't do both.

Is opening a door considered a move action? I may have ruled on that the opening the door was actually prior to the surprise round if it mattered.


Dance of Ruin wrote:

I guess you've arrived at a classic case of Logic vs The Rules ;). Keep in mind, though, that attacks of opportunity are an abstraction, a simple way to simulate distraction in combat. In order to provide a consistent gaming experience, I would have gone with the rules, as follows:

- The act that provokes AoO is the throwing of the grenade (or whatever). The door being open or closed is irrelevant to the question.

- The only (rules) explanation for not allowing your player an AoO in this situation would be that the assailant has at least partial cover.

- So, it all boils down to: How far did he open that door? If it was thrown open completely, then the player should have been allowed to take an AoO, IMO; if the attacker just opened it a little bit to throw his missile, then no AoO.

That's how I'd handle it, YMMV. The really important thing is that you didn't let this clog up your game session for (too) long :).

This response is pretty much right.

No attacker in their right mind would open a door all the way, exposing their entire body. No, they would open it a few inches, or maybe a foot, enough to see out and to toss the grenade.

The guy behind the barely-open door is protected from AoOs by the door.

Could the player attack the door? Sure, if the door provokes an AoO. Opening the door does not allow an AoO against the door. A guy behind the door standing perfectly still does not provoke any AoO at all, against the door or against the guy. That same guy making a tossing motion with his arm does not grant the player any special opportunity to attack the door. So no, the player cannot attack the door until the player's turn.

So, the guy and the door are both protected from AoOs.

The player on his turn could attack through the open door to strike the guy back there (normal cover rules apply) or could try to force the door open (bullrush or overrun should do it), but all of that would need to be done on the player's turn, not as an AoO.


DM_Blake wrote:

No attacker in their right mind would open a door all the way, exposing their entire body. No, they would open it a few inches, or maybe a foot, enough to see out and to toss the grenade.

The guy behind the barely-open door is protected from AoOs by the door.

Could the player attack the door? Sure, if the door provokes an AoO. Opening the door does not allow an AoO against the door. A guy behind the door standing perfectly still does not provoke any AoO at all, against the door or against the guy. That same guy making a tossing motion with his arm does not grant the player any special opportunity to attack the door. So no, the player cannot attack the door until the player's turn.

So, the guy and the door are both protected from AoOs.

The player on his turn could attack through the open door to strike the guy back there (normal cover rules apply) or could try to force the door open (bullrush or overrun should do it), but all of that would need to be done on the player's turn, not as an AoO.

I totally agree here. The only issue is how far the door was opened.

In your situation I would have stopped the arguing by stating my decision, and saying that I would "ask the boards" for more input, exactly as you have done.

Grand Lodge

Almagest wrote:

My campaign was brought to a standstill tonight because of the following scenario:

-Enemy is holding an improvised grenade weapon
-Enemy uses move action to open a door in front of him, then standard action to toss the item at a PC in front of him.

I ruled that no attack of opportunity was allowed for the PC, even though ranged weapons within threat range normally allow AoO, since:

-The opponent had total cover from the PC before the door was opened
-The PC didn't know the opponent was there
-Opening a door does not provoke an AoO
-Any kind of cover does not allow for an AoO
-

PFRPG Beta, pg. 134 wrote:
Remember that even actions that normally provoke attacks of opportunity may have exceptions to this rule.

The player (who wasn't even the PC in question] argued that there should be an AoO, since the PC now knew the enemy was there after the door was opened.

This small issue ended up stopping the game for a good 15 minutes, as the player in question wouldn't let the issue go, even though everyone else at the table (even the player controlling the PC in question) agreed with me. What's your opinion? Did I make the right call? Is there a rule or concept I'm missing? Thanks.

I don't think that any flat-footed character can make any AoO.


Herald wrote:
I don't think that any flat-footed character can make any AoO.

You can if you have Combat Reflexes. But that still doesn't help you if the door is only open a little bit.


Herald wrote:
I don't think that any flat-footed character can make any AoO.

Assuming no Combat Reflexes, this is correct -- is the character flat-foot, though, if combat has already started, and the character is already engaging an enemy? Does the newly-arrived enemy catch the character flat-footed, if no one knew he was there? Amending my earlier statement, I'm guessing a stealth vs. perception check would be necessary, but I could also see a case for allowing a pseudo-surprise round for the enemy entering combat. I'll have to hash it out with my players, I suppose.

stuart haffenden wrote:

I totally agree here. The only issue is how far the door was opened.

In your situation I would have stopped the arguing by stating my decision, and saying that I would "ask the boards" for more input, exactly as you have done.

Unfortunately, the player in question decided to ignore everyone and not play his character for the next two hours remaining in the session, as he apparently didn't like my repeated requests to drop the issue since I had already made my decision, wanted to resume the game, and wanted to bring the other, obviously uncomfortable, players back into the game. I wanted to get your opinions on if my judgment was incorrect, and if I was being unfair, so I can decide what to do with this player and his continued attendance in our games -- this wasn't an isolated issue, and I'm getting tired of this kind of stuff.


We don't know the exact circumstance, so its difficult to pick it apart with precision, but here are the three lines of reasoning I would use.

- The door was partially opened, so the thrower has cover. No AoO allowed.

- Character was described as surprised and thus flat-footed, No AoO usually allowed.

- In a usual circumstance it would be an AoO to throw something while threatened, but it is a free action that does not provoke an AoO to drop something. Depending on the grenade weapon, if its not important for the weapon to actually hit the character as much as just land in his square, then its certainly reasonable for the bad guy to just drop the grenade in the adjacent square and let it detonate.

The only way it is reasonable to halt the game over a rules squabble for that long is if it reaches the threshhold of causing player death. If that guy was going to die, then its very difficult to recover from that if you later decide you were wrong. Everyone will feel better if an agreement on the rules can be reached. If not, or if its not a matter of life and death, just state that you're making a tenative ruling, the game has to proceed, and you'll be happy to discuss rules out of the normal game time to make sure everyone's in agreement the next time it comes up.

You state its not an isolated issue. I'd say take him aside one on one and talk about his rules concerns. Make sure its general, don't get specific about one rules squabble or another. Once you've heard out anything he might have to say, you gotta lay down the law. If he wants to keep playing in the group, the only way the game can work is if there is ultimately one person who makes a decision on the spot and keeps things moving. His rules debates may entertain him, but they do not entertain the other players and its your job as the DM to make sure -everyone- is having fun.

Then its time to have a conversation with the whole table to introduce a table rule. What are the rules governing rules debates? Some people say 5 minutes per rules conversation, others say no books at the table, we go from memory and look them up later. Whatever happens there needs to be unanimous consent that everyone will follow the table rule.

Bottom line, you've got Rule 0 to make whatever call you need to, and he can always vote with his feet. If he in the end can't shape up, you'll have to drop him. That, of course, is the last resort.

Good Luck!

P.S. Don't tell him you'll come to the boards and let us decide. You're the final verdict no matter what.


If not already addressed, a new opponent entering existing combat sequence (where parties already have gone through first round of initiative) always appear at the top of the initiative round.

This is explicitly discussed in the Rules Compendium, and I don't believe changed by PF.


Arbitus wrote:

We don't know the exact circumstance, so its difficult to pick it apart with precision, but here are the three lines of reasoning I would use.

- The door was partially opened, so the thrower has cover. No AoO allowed.

- Character was described as surprised and thus flat-footed, No AoO usually allowed.

- In a usual circumstance it would be an AoO to throw something while threatened, but it is a free action that does not provoke an AoO to drop something. Depending on the grenade weapon, if its not important for the weapon to actually hit the character as much as just land in his square, then its certainly reasonable for the bad guy to just drop the grenade in the adjacent square and let it detonate.

The only way it is reasonable to halt the game over a rules squabble for that long is if it reaches the threshhold of causing player death. If that guy was going to die, then its very difficult to recover from that if you later decide you were wrong. Everyone will feel better if an agreement on the rules can be reached. If not, or if its not a matter of life and death, just state that you're making a tenative ruling, the game has to proceed, and you'll be happy to discuss rules out of the normal game time to make sure everyone's in agreement the next time it comes up.

You state its not an isolated issue. I'd say take him aside one on one and talk about his rules concerns. Make sure its general, don't get specific about one rules squabble or another. Once you've heard out anything he might have to say, you gotta lay down the law. If he wants to keep playing in the group, the only way the game can work is if there is ultimately one person who makes a decision on the spot and keeps things moving. His rules debates may entertain him, but they do not entertain the other players and its your job as the DM to make sure -everyone- is having fun.

Then its time to have a conversation with the whole table to introduce a table rule. What are the rules governing rules debates? Some people say 5...

I didn't tell him I went to the boards for a clarification; I'm here to check how other players/GMs would handle a situation like this, both rules-based and game flow-based. Thanks for the advice.


stuart haffenden wrote:


In your situation I would have stopped the arguing by stating my decision, and saying that I would "ask the boards" for more input, exactly as you have done.

I guess this is the quote I was referring to. Cheers.


If the rules debates are an ongoing affair, you need to have a heart to heart with this person. You are the DM, and you need to be fair to all of your players. If someone is being that childish (arguing over rules for 15 minutes, not playing their character afterwards) over an action that doesn't even affect their character then they need to learn that said behavior is not acceptable.

I wouldn't wait until the next game session either. Do it between sessions (and preferably the sooner the better). Understand that they have differences of opinion about your rulings, but make them understand that you run your game a certain way. Advise them that long distractions about rules interpretations are upsetting the rest of the group and won't be tolerated. That's not to say that someone can't bring up a point now and again, but once a ruling has been established, it must be accepted so that play can continue.

I've had some of these moments myself. My players may not always like my rules interpretations, but they accept them. As long as rules interpretations are applied equally across the board, it's not favoritism (either for or against the PC's). Good luck!


Herald wrote:

I don't think that any flat-footed character can make any AoO.

Correct. More importantly, though, AoOs cannot be made against a target that has cover relative to you. Page 151, PHB. Not sure where that is in the PF Beta.


To add to the discussion:

Rules on cover from the Beta p.146:
"Cover and Attacks of Opportunity: You can't execute an attack of opportunity against any opponent with cover relative to you."

"When making a melee attack against an adjacent target, your target has cover if any line from your square to the target's square goes through a wall (including a low wall).

So assuming medium sized opponents, unless the doorway opening was at least 5' wide, attacking through the doorway will grant cover to either party adjacent to the door, even if there were no door to open/close.


Almagest wrote:

My campaign was brought to a standstill tonight because of the following scenario:

-Enemy is holding an improvised grenade weapon
-Enemy uses move action to open a door in front of him, then standard action to toss the item at a PC in front of him.

I ruled that no attack of opportunity was allowed for the PC, even though ranged weapons within threat range normally allow AoO, since:

-The opponent had total cover from the PC before the door was opened
-The PC didn't know the opponent was there
-Opening a door does not provoke an AoO
-Any kind of cover does not allow for an AoO
-

PFRPG Beta, pg. 134 wrote:
Remember that even actions that normally provoke attacks of opportunity may have exceptions to this rule.

Perception check to stop the surprise round. If the PC succeeds he can take the AoO if he fails he is surprised and flat footed. IF a door is open, it is open, if it is not then it is not, opening and closing a door are both standard actions if the NPC didn't open it enough to allow an AoO then the PC's have cover against him too, if he did then he provokes IF the PC saw him (by making his perception check, which is a free action).

Also how did the NPC know the PC's were there? Did he here them? If so they might have heard him. Scrying allows a check to be noticed (so if he was using magic to see them they might have noticed it giving reason to be on there guard).

The PC has skills for a reason, this is exactly that reason. You as a DM have no reason to say the PC couldn't notice and react in time without DM Fiat unless you check their skills first. If the door is giving the NPC cover, it is also giving the PCs cover. If not then the AoO goes through on the check.

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, LO Special Edition, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Abraham spalding wrote:
IF a door is open, it is open, if it is not then it is not, opening and closing a door are both standard actions if the NPC didn't open it enough to allow an AoO then the PC's have cover against him too, if he did then he provokes IF the PC saw him (by making his perception check, which is a free action).

Opening or closing a door is a move action not a standard action. And there is no AoO for opening or closing a door. The question is, was opening the door part of the surprise round or before the surprise round? If it is part of the Surprise round then that is his only action since you can either do a move or standard action in a surprise round, not both. If was prior to the Surprise round then I agree everyone should get a listen or spot check *or perception if using beta* to see if they are not surprised. Ofcourse if the person next to the door does not beat the guy with the thrown objects intitaive he is flat footed since it is the begining of the combat so he does not get a AoO anyway, if he does beat the intititave he would have swacked the guy and he might have changed his action afterwards.

either way the PCs should have deffintly got the chance to noitce the ambush before it happened so they could act during the surprise round.


Abraham spalding wrote:
IF a door is open, it is open, if it is not then it is not, opening and closing a door are both standard actions if the NPC didn't open it enough to allow an AoO then the PC's have cover against him too

Whether the door is open or closed is pretty much irrelevant unless it's a double-door or a door sized for larger than Medium creatures. Medium-sized doorways provide cover in both directions even if a door is not present, let alone closed. And, for the record, I don't see where he said that the cover wasn't bi-directional in the first place, like you seem to be implying.

Scarab Sages

The way I would have suggested handling it would be to have the door being opened his 'move action', and then roll initiative. If the assailant won initiative, he could then throw the grenade weapon with no AoO (creatures that have not yet gone in combat are considered flat-footed, and cannot make AoOs). If someone goes before him, he may still be safe assuming they don't move to threaten him.


Arbitus wrote:

P.S. Don't tell him you'll come to the boards and let us decide. You're the final verdict no matter what.

Actually I think you should direct him to this thread as you say these issues have been on-going.

At least give him the opportunity to see that no-one agrees with his view of the situation and furthermore, he doesn't appear to be getting too much support in the way he handled the situation.


I'd say that if a PC has combat reflexes and is within range, it's fair game (since it is, as the name sugests, a reflex, somthing that will happen without thought at in an instant). Baring that however, the charaters cannot make attacks of oppertunity flat-footed. Sounds pretty simple to me.

Grand Lodge

As far as I can see, the cover rules have got you, well, covered. The only situation when a character could take an AoO on somebody opening a normal-sized (i.e., 5-ft. wide) door is if they were standing directly in front of the door. If they had reach, they could also be standing further back from the door, but it always has to be on a direct line. Attacking diagonally into the door provides partial cover, and thus an AoO would not be allowed. And I'm guessing that if the player character had been standing directly on the other side of the door from the NPC, he wouldn't have opened it in the first place. If he was directly the other side of the door from the NPC, I'd probably have allowed a Listen check to not be flat-footed, with penalties applied for the door being in the way.


stuart haffenden wrote:
Arbitus wrote:

P.S. Don't tell him you'll come to the boards and let us decide. You're the final verdict no matter what.

Actually I think you should direct him to this thread as you say these issues have been on-going.

At least give him the opportunity to see that no-one agrees with his view of the situation and furthermore, he doesn't appear to be getting too much support in the way he handled the situation.

Ah sure, and I realize now that nobody was saying this, so don't feel like I'm putting words in anybody's mouth, but:

Don't let players think there is a "higher authority" that they can go to and "overrule the DM."

As a DM, you should be a scholar of the rules even if nobody else at your table is. There can be an appeal where the rule is considered out of game and time is taken to consult all the rules in detail, including asking other people's opinions, but don't make the Boards the Supreme Court (to capstone the metaphor).

If you feel like there should be one final avenue of discussion, then have the table vote on it and enter it as a full House Ruling that gets written down and is available to all, monsters and characters alike.


Zurai wrote:
Whether the door is open or closed is pretty much irrelevant unless it's a double-door or a door sized for larger than Medium creatures. Medium-sized doorways provide cover in both directions even if a door is not present, let alone closed. And, for the record, I don't see where he said that the cover wasn't bi-directional in the first place, like you seem to be implying.

My point exactly. Drawing a line from any point of a medium-sized attacker's space through a doorway less than 5' wide will "pass through a wall", and thus provide cover to anyone one the other side of the opening. Surprise rounds, perception checks, how far the door is opened, etc. are irrelevant by RAW.

Now honestly, I personally don't always go by RAW if the situation would be better handled by common sense or if the in-game situation warrants a different handling of the rules. I support the OP's handling of the situation.

Dark Archive

I would have agreed with your ruling completely. This new contender entering from behind a door where not one person knew he was at does not call for an attack of opportunity. Rulebook be damned. Logic wins hands down. The rules in DnD are a guideline for your decisions not God's words scribed in stone and handed down to man. In the end its your game. Just make sure your rulings stay consistent further in your campaign.

Perhaps I am just an evil DM, but I don't take bs from my players. If they want to cry and whine about a ruling, in which the target of the attack is not argueing against, then they can do so on their own time, out of game. If they refuse to play their character then they can leave my game and once they have cooled down come back.


I think I need to clarify the situation a little further. Combat was already happening (it was the 3rd or 4th round); there was no initial surprise round. The PCs were in a 5' wide corridor, with a number of doors on both sides. The PC in question (no combat reflexes) was standing in front of a door, with an ally standing behind him, and an enemy standing in front of him. Behind the door immediately below the PC was an enemy. The enemies were already alerted to the PCs presence by a lookout. The enemy strategy was to draw the PCs into the narrow corridor, and pop out of the doors to do nasty things to them from all sides. Once the PCs were in range, the enemy quickly opened the door just enough to see the PC relatively clearly (move action, no AoO), and tossed the weapon (partial cover, no AoO).

Also, hypothetically, I agree a perception (sound) check should be allowed if the enemy opens the door wide enough to negate any cover. I'd probably give a -15 to the check; however, due to being in battle (-10) and the enemy starting behind a solid object (-5) [PFRPG 68]. If the PC didn't make this check, I'd count the enemy as invisible for his standard action -- +2 to enemy attack, PC doesn't get Dex bonus. No Dex bonus means no AoO, to me, though I don't know if there's an explicit ruling on this, since technically the PC wouldn't be "flat-footed", he'd just have the same penalties.


Almagest wrote:
I think I need to clarify the situation a little further. Combat was already happening (it was the 3rd or 4th round); there was no initial surprise round.

Ahh, I think people thought this was a surprise round because you said:

Almagest wrote:
I also feel that the opening of the door and "surprising" whatever is on the other side ...

Since there was no surprise round, there is no problem.

Almagest wrote:
The PCs were in a 5' wide corridor, with a number of doors on both sides. The PC in question (no combat reflexes) was standing in front of a door, with an ally standing behind him, and an enemy standing in front of him. Behind the door immediately below the PC was an enemy. The enemies were already alerted to the PCs presence by a lookout. The enemy strategy was to draw the PCs into the narrow corridor, and pop out of the doors to do nasty things to them from all sides. Once the PCs were in range, the enemy quickly opened the door just enough to see the PC relatively clearly (move action, no AoO), and tossed the weapon (partial cover, no AoO).

Correct and correct again.

Almagest wrote:
Also, hypothetically, I agree a perception (sound) check should be allowed if the enemy opens the door wide enough to negate any cover. I'd probably give a -15 to the check; however, due to being in battle (-10) and the enemy starting behind a solid object (-5) [PFRPG 68]. If the PC didn't make this check, I'd count the enemy as invisible for his standard action -- +2 to enemy attack, PC doesn't get Dex bonus. No Dex bonus means no AoO, to me, though I don't know if there's an explicit ruling on this, since technically the PC wouldn't be "flat-footed", he'd just have the same penalties.

Now you're straying into a gray area.

Unseen is not the same thing as invisible. Invisible attackers get big benefits, perhaps the biggest of which is the ability to rob their defenders of their DEX bonus. Combine that with +2 to hit and suddenly their chances of hitting skyrocket. Even worse, throw in an automatic sneak attack if they have the ability, and watch those easy hits convert to lots of dice of damage.

Why does invisible get this bonus? Because until the moment the invisible blade sinks into your flesh (e.g.), you don't even know it's there. You can't defend yourself.

But unseen is different. Sure, the PC missed his perception check. Who wouldn't with those penalties? But as that perfectly visible arm holding that perfectly visible grenade come whipping into view, the movement out of the corner of the PC's eye causes him to whirl and sidestep, or whatever, thus still getting his DEX and still defending himself from AoOs.

Remember, no facing in combat, so it's not like that door is behind him. Further, the PCs are in battle and they know the doors are there. Unopened doors in an unexplored dungeon are dangerous - monsters might be behind them. And with all this noisy battle going on, those monsters might yank open the doors at any second to see what all the noise is about. So it's not like they're standing with their backs to the door, oblivious.

Perception check or no, the rapid motion of throwing something through the door will catch their attention, should catch their attention, enough for them to defend themselves normally.


DM_Blake wrote:

Almagest wrote:
Also, hypothetically, I agree a perception (sound) check should be allowed if the enemy opens the door wide enough to negate any cover. I'd probably give a -15 to the check; however, due to being in battle (-10) and the enemy starting behind a solid object (-5) [PFRPG 68]. If the PC didn't make this check, I'd count the enemy as invisible for his standard action -- +2 to enemy attack, PC doesn't get Dex bonus. No Dex bonus means no AoO, to me, though I don't know if there's an explicit ruling on this, since technically the PC wouldn't be "flat-footed", he'd just have the same penalties.

Now you're straying into a gray area.

Unseen is not the same thing as invisible. Invisible attackers get big benefits, perhaps the biggest of which is the ability to rob their defenders of their DEX bonus. Combine that with +2 to hit and suddenly their chances of hitting skyrocket. Even worse, throw in an automatic sneak attack if they have the ability, and watch those easy hits convert to lots of dice of damage.

Why does invisible get this bonus? Because until the moment the invisible blade sinks into your flesh (e.g.), you don't even know it's there. You can't defend yourself.

But unseen is different. Sure, the PC missed his perception check. Who wouldn't with those penalties? But as that perfectly visible arm holding that perfectly visible grenade come whipping into view, the movement out of the corner of the PC's eye causes him to whirl and sidestep, or whatever, thus still getting his DEX and still defending himself from AoOs.

Remember, no facing in combat, so it's not like that door is behind him. Further, the PCs are in battle and they know the doors are there. Unopened doors in an unexplored dungeon are dangerous - monsters might be behind them. And with all this noisy battle going on, those monsters might yank open the doors at any second to see what all the noise is about. So it's not like they're standing with their backs to the door, oblivious.

Perception check or no, the rapid motion of throwing something through the door will catch their attention, should catch their attention, enough for them to defend themselves normally.

Actually, I think that this kind of action calls for a Perception check opposed to a Stealth check.

If the Stealth is successful, I would undoubtly grant the flat-footed condition against the targets - and in that case, no AoO can be made at all.
If the Perception is successful, however, the opponents are not flat-footed, and the action of throwing the grenade could provoke the AoO if:
1) the creatures throwing the grenades are within the threatened area of their targets, and
2) the creatures throwing the grenades have partial cover or less towards their targets.

Speaking of Perception checks and Stealth, and the flat-footed condition... if an unnoticed creature (thanks to its Stealth check) cannot grant the flat-footed condition to its target, how could Rogues sneak attack their targets without flanking them or after the surprise round? No 'backstabs' due to their abilities to sneak past their targets and gut them to death ? Only thanks to invisibility ? I'm sure that nobody would agree with this. So, if a Rogue can catch flat-footed his victim thanks to his Stealth check, anybody can (of course, the result would be far less disruptive, without a Sneak Attack).

But it's true that such a situation would not grant the +2 bonus an invisible creature gains when attacking - in fact, Table 9.6 on page 147 (PF Beta) shows the exact condition modifiers:

Armor Class Modifiers
Defender is...
Flat-footed (such as surprised, balancing, climbing) Melee +0* Ranged +0*
*The defender loses any Dexterity bonus to AC.

Just my 2c.


DM_Blake wrote:

Now you're straying into a gray area.

Unseen is not the same thing as invisible. Invisible attackers get big benefits, perhaps the biggest of which is the ability to rob their defenders of their DEX bonus. Combine that with +2 to hit and suddenly their chances of hitting skyrocket. Even worse, throw in an automatic sneak attack if they have the ability, and watch those easy hits convert to lots of dice of damage.

Why does invisible get this bonus? Because until the moment the invisible blade sinks into your flesh (e.g.), you don't even know it's there. You can't defend yourself.

But unseen is different. Sure, the PC missed his perception check. Who wouldn't with those penalties? But as that perfectly visible arm holding that perfectly visible grenade come whipping into view, the movement out of the corner of the PC's eye causes him to whirl and sidestep, or whatever, thus still getting his DEX and still defending himself from AoOs.

Remember, no facing in combat, so it's not like that door is behind him. Further, the PCs are in battle and they know the doors are there. Unopened doors in an unexplored dungeon are dangerous - monsters might be behind them. And with all this noisy battle going on, those monsters might yank open the doors at any second to see what all the noise is about. So it's not like they're standing with their backs to the door, oblivious.

Perception check or no, the rapid motion of throwing something through the door will catch their attention, should catch their attention, enough for them to defend themselves normally.

You're right, I suppose the invisibility is a little much. I would still say the PC needs to notice the enemy opening the door, and require a perception check, even without stealth being used; however, at a DC of 10 or 15 (DC 0 to notice someone standing there, +10 for in battle, +5 possibly for behind door). If the PC fails, he's flat-footed.

The Wraith wrote:

Actually, I think that this kind of action calls for a Perception check opposed to a Stealth check.

If the Stealth is successful, I would undoubtly grant the flat-footed condition against the targets - and in that case, no AoO can be made at all.
If the Perception is successful, however, the opponents are not flat-footed, and the action of throwing the grenade could provoke the AoO if:
1) the creatures throwing the grenades are within the threatened area of their targets, and
2) the creatures throwing the grenades have partial cover or less towards their targets.

I believe partial cover still prevents AoO. I agree with you otherwise.


That does clear some things up. So the enemies behind the door are behind cover, so they are eligible to make Stealth checks, which now cover both their Hide and Move Silently.

Stealth checks typically do not get modified by circumstances, this is handled through the Perception Check, so they roll what they roll.

Your character is eligible to make a Perception check to oppose this stealth check.

What should the modifiers be there.

-10 for being in battle? Look again. Thats the DC to perceive that there IS a battle. In other words, if you were hit by a spell that somehow gave you a -10 to your perception check and your normal roll would total up to a 1, you would still know that there was a battle going on around you because -10 + 1 > -10 DC. In other words that table is saying that battles are REALLY easy to perceive even at great distances, through walls and so forth.

A character standing right next to a door has the opportunity to both see and hear that door opening. I would give them the lowest of the two DC's to notice it. For sight, there are no modifiers positive or negative. For sound, there is a +5 to the DC for "Louder sound going on nearby". So we go with the seeing DC. Now if in the previous 3 or 4 round opponents had been opening doors, I doubt your characters are dummies. They probably understand that every door is a threat vector. So I'd probably give them a +2 for keeping an eye on the doors that surround them.

That leaves (in my opinion) not a -15 for your character to notice the door open, but actually a +2! If he fails that, then your opponent is successfully hidden and gets off exactly one attack against a flat footed foe. He's not considered invisible, just hidden, and that Denies him his Dex bonus to AC, no other special bonuses. After that attack, your character is certainly aware.

However, still no AoO due to the cover situation we discussed above.


Arbitus wrote:

That does clear some things up. So the enemies behind the door are behind cover, so they are eligible to make Stealth checks, which now cover both their Hide and Move Silently.

Stealth checks typically do not get modified by circumstances, this is handled through the Perception Check, so they roll what they roll.

Your character is eligible to make a Perception check to oppose this stealth check.

What should the modifiers be there.

-10 for being in battle? Look again. Thats the DC to perceive that there IS a battle. In other words, if you were hit by a spell that somehow gave you a -10 to your perception check and your normal roll would total up to a 1, you would still know that there was a battle going on around you because -10 + 1 > -10 DC. In other words that table is saying that battles are REALLY easy to perceive even at great distances, through walls and so forth.

A character standing right next to a door has the opportunity to both see and hear that door opening. I would give them the lowest of the two DC's to notice it. For sight, there are no modifiers positive or negative. For sound, there is a +5 to the DC for "Louder sound going on nearby". So we go with the seeing DC. Now if in the previous 3 or 4 round opponents had been opening doors, I doubt your characters are dummies. They probably understand that every door is a threat vector. So I'd probably give them a +2 for keeping an eye on the doors that surround them.

That leaves (in my opinion) not a -15 for your character to notice the door open, but actually a +2! If he fails that, then your opponent is successfully hidden and gets off exactly one attack against a flat footed foe. He's not considered invisible, just hidden, and that Denies him his Dex bonus to AC, no other special bonuses. After that attack, your character is certainly aware.

However, still no AoO due to the cover situation we discussed above.

That makes a lot more sense. Not sure what I was looking at -- I'll just chalk it up to "a wizard did it" and move on. The only difference I might go with is a -2 for being distracted by the monster already attacking them, for a total modifier of 0. No check needs to be made if the monster isn't using stealth, since that's not a check that could be failed in this situation.

I've been doing this for 10 years, and sometimes I still feel like I'm fumbling around, learning the rules for the first time. It's also amazing how many situations pop up (like this one) that I've never come across before, even after such a long time playing.


It was a good little example situation to work through for practice. Thanks for giving us a crack at it.


Since we are discussing hidden attackers vs. invisible attackers and such, I was wondering what rules, if any, would apply to my current situation.

I'm playing a Warlock who uses a Darkness/Devil's Sight Combo. Obviously, if the enemy that I am attacking is in the Darkness and can't see then I am effectively an Invisible attacker with the possible exception to someone/thing with Blind-Fight.

What if they are not within the Darkness? They can still see and react but they can't see me...but they likely know roughly where I, the threat, am at...but they can't really anticipate my attack without being able to see me conjure up my Eldritch Blast.

What do you think would be the most accurate ruling in this situation?


Frogboy wrote:

Since we are discussing hidden attackers vs. invisible attackers and such, I was wondering what rules, if any, would apply to my current situation.

I'm playing a Warlock who uses a Darkness/Devil's Sight Combo. Obviously, if the enemy that I am attacking is in the Darkness and can't see then I am effectively an Invisible attacker with the possible exception to someone/thing with Blind-Fight.

What if they are not within the Darkness? They can still see and react but they can't see me...but they likely know roughly where I, the threat, am at...but they can't really anticipate my attack without being able to see me conjure up my Eldritch Blast.

What do you think would be the most accurate ruling in this situation?

Ruleswise, this is no different that the classic "Adventurers in a deep, dark cave, with only a circle of flickering torchlight to guide them" scenario. In other words, your target cannot see you: he is denied his dex bonus towards you unless he has superior senses (devil's sight, blindsense/sight, tremorsense, etc), Uncanny Dodge, or Blind-Fighting.


Frogboy wrote:

Since we are discussing hidden attackers vs. invisible attackers and such, I was wondering what rules, if any, would apply to my current situation.

I'm playing a Warlock who uses a Darkness/Devil's Sight Combo. Obviously, if the enemy that I am attacking is in the Darkness and can't see then I am effectively an Invisible attacker with the possible exception to someone/thing with Blind-Fight.

What if they are not within the Darkness? They can still see and react but they can't see me...but they likely know roughly where I, the threat, am at...but they can't really anticipate my attack without being able to see me conjure up my Eldritch Blast.

What do you think would be the most accurate ruling in this situation?

I'm not familiar specifically with the Devil's Sight spell/ability you reference, or what version of Darkness you're using. Most of the illumination rules will have changed between Beta and Release versions, so we'll see what happens.

PF Beta Page 127 has a section on Vision and Light that spells out the penalty for creatures who are in darkness or in shadowy illumination.

If its totally dark, then you are effectively blind and can reference the rules for that condition. It also states opponents have total concealment to you, so you can look at that section (page 146 I believe). No AoO and yes you lose your Dex Bonus to AC.

If its shadowy illumination, then you have concealment (20% miss chance), but thats the only penalty you take. Ie you don't take penalties to AC and so forth. Also nowhere in the book does it take away the ability to make AoO against opponents with (not total) concealment.

The Darkness spell in Beta is poorly written and has been overhauled. Expect that there will be degrees of light. So for instance Darkness may drop the light level 2 steps. Maybe on a Sunny day that will equate to shadowy illumination. Maybe in a normal interior room that will go to total darkness. If someone then brings a torch into the darkness that bumps it up one step to shadowy illumination.

Anyway, that's only somewhat informed speculation at this point.


The two Warlock Invocations that I'm using do the following:

Darkness - Creates an area of magical darkness. Not may things can see in magical darkness. Darkvision doesn't apply here. Only things like Scent, Blindsight, Blindsense etc.

Devil's Sight - Allows me to see in magical darkness.

The question was mainly, if my attack can't see me but for the most part knows that I'm there, what rules apply?

It's hard enough to miss anythign now. I can't imagine how easy it'd be if everything I attacked with my ranged touch was flat-footed (almost always AC 10 or less) but that very well might be RAW for 3.5 at least. I'm not sure. They could very well nerf Darkness in Pathfinder.


Frogboy wrote:


The question was mainly, if my attack can't see me but for the most part knows that I'm there, what rules apply?

Blindness/Invisibility/Total Concealment (which are all directly related and are essentially the same rule). It doesn't matter that they have a general feeling you're out there, they can't see you hold out your arm and aim at something, so no dex bonus, additional penalties to AC and so forth.

Quote:


They could very well nerf Darkness in Pathfinder.

Count on it :)


Arbitus wrote:
Quote:
They could very well nerf Darkness in Pathfinder.
Count on it :)

Why do I get the feeling that the whiners are winning here. I'm not talking about you. I'm just referring to the fact that Piazo is nerfing all of the good spells while boosting all of the non-spellcasters. I remember playing the old Goldbox DND games (which probably weren't entirely accurate rule-wise) but even the lowest level spells were disasterous. A simple Charm Person could turn half your allies against you. A Hold Person could turn into what amounted to an instant kill on half your party. One attack and they were toast, no matter what. In 3.5, magic is good but not what it used to be. In 4.0, it's a complete joke. I don't even know if you can even call it magic anymore. In Pathfinder, it still continues the degradation in power from previous editions (no instant kill...really). I know a lot people are screaming for this but I haven't decided whether it's a good thing or not. I guess we'll see soon enough. :)


Frogboy wrote:


Why do I get the feeling that the whiners are winning here. I'm not talking about you. I'm just referring to the fact that Piazo is nerfing all of the good spells while boosting all of the non-spellcasters.

That's hopefully not referencing darkness? The 3.5 version of that spell was so bad that, if cast in an area of total darkness, it would actually make things visible. The 3.5 version created an area of shadowy illumination (ie, the outer edge of a ring of torchlight). Pathfinder's version actually improves the spell by causing the current illumination level to decrease, no matter what it's currently at.


Frogboy wrote:


Why do I get the feeling that the whiners are winning here. I'm not talking about you. I'm just referring to the fact that Piazo is nerfing all of the good spells while boosting all of the non-spellcasters. I remember playing the old Goldbox DND games (which probably weren't entirely accurate rule-wise) but even the lowest level spells were disasterous. A simple Charm Person could turn half your allies against you. A Hold Person could turn into what amounted to an instant kill on half your party. One attack and they were toast, no matter what. In 3.5, magic is good but not what it used to be. In 4.0, it's a complete joke. I don't even know if you can even call it magic anymore. In Pathfinder, it still continues the degradation in power from previous editions (no instant kill...really). I know a lot people are screaming for this but I haven't decided whether it's a good thing or not. I guess we'll see soon enough. :)

What Zurai said.

Plus, the answer is in your own description.

Combat Formula:

1) Waste time until the wizard goes
2) Wizard casts a spell
3) Mop up his light work
4) FUN!

somehow that just doesn't add up. Since we're not talking about anything specific there's not really anything to debate, and there are about 13 better threads to get into it on. Just reserve judgement and keep in mind that characters should be roughly balanced against each other so that everyone has an important role.


I understand the reasons behind it and it may be all for the better. It's just kind of sad that there probably isn't going to be much to get nervous about when you face a mysterious spell caster. It sounds like you'd have to get really unlucky to get taken out fo the battle anymore. I know, it's more fun for the player that way but there are consequences to this as well. That Necromancer isn't going to instill much fear anymore...maybe...we'll see.

Scarab Sages

Cover trumps AoO
DM trumps Player

DM XPenalizes player for arguing and ruining everyone else fun...


Zurai wrote:
That's hopefully not referencing darkness? The 3.5 version of that spell was so bad that, if cast in an area of total darkness, it would actually make things visible. The 3.5 version created an area of shadowy illumination (ie, the outer edge of a ring of torchlight). Pathfinder's version actually improves the spell by causing the current illumination level to decrease, no matter what it's currently at.

Wow, I just reread the spell description for 3.5 Darkness. They really messed that one up. Most of us are old school so Darkness has and will probably always be a globe a impenetrable darkness and allows for no standard vision or darkvision. You can't see your hand in front of your face even if it were on fire. You're basically blind which makes sense. Blindness is also a second level spell. Granted, Blindness gives a save but but Darkness is usually a two-way street. I'd have no problem giving Darkness a similar save as Silence has.

I have a feeling that Drizzt wouldn't approve. Drizzt calls forth his innate drow abilities to summon a globe of impenatrable darkness...then gets turned into a pin cushion becasue he unwittingly brightens the room, marking a bulls-eye on his back for the 30 orc archers that were just about to fire in unison.


Frogboy wrote:


I have a feeling that Drizzt wouldn't approve. Drizzt calls forth his innate drow abilities to summon a globe of impenatrable darkness...then gets turned into a pin cushion becasue he unwittingly brightens the room, marking a bulls-eye on his back for the 30 orc archers that were just about to fire in unison.

Pincushioning Drizzt is the one up side to the new darkness spell :)


I just went and read the spell description for Darkness in beta. If you're wondering, I am just waiting for the official product to come out before using anything from Pathfinder. I don't feel like confusing alpha, beta, Pathfinder and 3.5 rules. Anyway, It's still pretty lame. Effectively, it creates a field of non-magical darkness that a simple torch or darkvision can cut right through. I'm having trouble figuring out why any lightsource within the darkness lightens the area and the Sun(s) don't but I guess that's the magical part of it. Still, having trouble figuring out why the simple yet iconic Darkness spell keeps changing every edition. What is so broken about creating a 20ft radius sphere where vision is not possible, especially when there is another second level spell that creates a 20ft radius sphere where sound is not possible? Or does that just create an area that's slightly more difficult to hear in now? :(


Frogboy wrote:
What is so broken about creating a 20ft radius sphere where vision is not possible

Do you really need an answer to that? If you cast an impenetrable darkness on someone, they're screwed until your spell wears off, and there's no save. It's essentially a save-or-suck spell with no save at 2nd level. It'd be not much better than removing the saves from hold person.

Frogboy wrote:
especially when there is another second level spell that creates a 20ft radius sphere where sound is not possible?

Deafened is not as bad a condition as blinded is. The only penalty for being deafened is that you have an automatic spell failure chance. The penalty for being blind is a 50% miss chance on all attacks and several severe defensive penalties. EDIT: Also, silence allows a save. Darkness never has.


Zurai wrote:
Do you really need an answer to that? If you cast an impenetrable darkness on someone, they're screwed until your spell wears off, and there's no save. It's essentially a save-or-suck spell with no save at 2nd level. It'd be not much better than removing the saves from hold person.

Be easier to give it a save if you cast it on another creature which is what we housed in (Will Negates). And I'll assume that you're exaggerating about Hold Person. You can be instantly (almost) slain from that, not simply rendered less effective.

Zurai wrote:
Deafened is not as bad a condition as blinded is. The only penalty for being deafened is that you have an automatic spell failure chance. The penalty for being blind is a 50% miss chance on all attacks and several severe defensive penalties. EDIT: Also, silence allows a save. Darkness never has.

Silence was the spell I was referring to and it can easily be just as disruptive mostly against spell casters. Hit a spell caster with Silence and he's in a really bad place since he can't even attempt to dispel it unless he has Silent Spell. A Fighter can still fight without Blind-Fight. You can also "throw" a Silence on a target or fixed point in space instead of just a range of touch which was already a nerf on Darkness from previous editions.

True magical darkness is usually a two way street. If you have Darkness cast on you and you are engaged in melee, chances are, your enemy has the same 50% miss chance that you do. I can't imagine that anyone bothers to waste a feat on Blind-Fight using the either of the official rules. I put the iconic Darkness at about 2nd level in power as long as you add the Will save for unwilling subjects; right there with Invisibility. DND 3.5 Darkness should be a 1st level spell since it's basically the same functionally as Obscuring Mist and weaker than Fog Cloud. Pathfinder Darkness is borderline cantrip. If you can see into and through Darkness with Darkvision then what's the difference between it and Light, especially when you can render it useless with the level 0 light cantrip? Heck, you can render it useless with a non-magical torch.

[butthead impression]Uhhhh…these effects aren’t very special.[/butthead impression]

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