"Standard action" vs. "in place of a melee attack"


Rules Questions


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I have a 2-part question about the disarm, trip, and sunder combat maneuvers. The descriptions for all three of these say they can be performed "in place of a melee attack" (as opposed to grapple, overrun, and bull rush, which are performed "as a standard action").

1. Does this mean, if I can normally attack more than once as a full action, that I can replace any or all of those attacks with a trip, sunder, or disarm? For example, if I can normally attack 3 times with a full action, I could choose to trip/trip/trip, or disarm/disarm/disarm, or disarm/trip/attack?

2. If the answer to 1. is yes, then does my CMB decrease by 5 for successive maneuvers, just as though they were iterative attacks? For example, if I use a full action to trip twice, do I suffer a -5 to my CMB for the second trip?

Thanks in advance.

Dark Archive

1) Yes.

2) Yes.


1. yes
2. yes.
When you gain Iterative Attacks, your BAB is presented as (+11/+6/+1) (for example),
even though most of us think of it as an attack penalty.


Where's that in the rules, that the bonus descends like iterative attacks do? I can't find it in the PRD.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
T O wrote:
Where's that in the rules, that the bonus descends like iterative attacks do? I can't find it in the PRD.
Pathfinder SRD wrote:


Combat Maneuver Bonus: Each character and creature has a Combat Maneuver Bonus (or CMB) that represents its skill at performing combat maneuvers. A creature's CMB is determined using the following formula:

CMB = Base attack bonus + Strength modifier + special size modifier

Creatures that are size Tiny or smaller use their Dexterity modifier in place of their Strength modifier to determine their CMB. The special size modifier for a creature's Combat Maneuver Bonus is as follows: Fine –8, Diminutive –4, Tiny –2, Small –1, Medium +0, Large +1, Huge +2, Gargantuan +4, Colossal +8. Some feats and abilities grant a bonus to your CMB when performing specific maneuvers.

See the above. When discussing an attack, your Base Attack Bonus is decreased iteratively. Thus, your CMB for your first attack is at Full BAB (why they call it Full, dontcha know). For the next attack, your BAB is your Full BAB - 5, and so on and so on.

EDIT: Note that your BAB only differs from Full BAB when you are making iterative attacks. This is why the iterative attacks don't affect your CMD, you are not considered to be attacking when you are defending (even when being AoO'd because of an attack you made), so your BAB in that formula is your Full BAB.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Dissinger wrote:

1) Yes.

2) Yes.

+1

Liberty's Edge

I'll take this question a step further.

If you have a BAB of +5 or less (i.e. no multi-attack option yet such as a fighter of 5th level or lower) but you have a double weapon like a Meteor Hammer (from Legacy of Fire) which is trip capable, can you make a trip attack twice if you take the full attack?


Not familiar with that item, but if you have Two Weapon Fighting and the item description states that both ends can be used for tripping, then yes.

Grand Lodge

Kalraan wrote:

I'll take this question a step further.

If you have a BAB of +5 or less (i.e. no multi-attack option yet such as a fighter of 5th level or lower) but you have a double weapon like a Meteor Hammer (from Legacy of Fire) which is trip capable, can you make a trip attack twice if you take the full attack?

Yes - In place of a melee attack means ANY attack with a melee weapon, be it with your main hand, an off-hand, or even an attack of opportunity.

Be aware though that the AoO happens before the action that causes it so you cannot trip someone who is trying to stand up from prone.


Kalraan wrote:
...but you have a double weapon like a Meteor Hammer (from Legacy of Fire) which is trip capable...

Besides what others have said, I don't believe there's any such thing as weapons which are uniquely 'trip capable'. The wording on 'trip' weapons is extremely confusing on this (I tried to get it changed during the playtest, hopefully it will be addressed in Errata) but AFAIK the only effect of the 'trip' weapon quality is that you are allowed to DROP the weapon if you fail by 10+, rather than be Tripped yourself. The Trip rules themselves contain no limitation, and allow Trip to substitute for ANY attack roll. If non-'trip weapons' WERE barred from making Trip attacks, that would mean Unarmed Strike would not be capable of Tripping, which is absurd.


Quandary wrote:
Kalraan wrote:
...but you have a double weapon like a Meteor Hammer (from Legacy of Fire) which is trip capable...
Besides what others have said, I don't believe there's any such thing as weapons which are uniquely 'trip capable'. The wording on 'trip' weapons is extremely confusing on this (I tried to get it changed during the playtest, hopefully it will be addressed in Errata) but AFAIK the only effect of the 'trip' weapon quality is that you are allowed to DROP the weapon if you fail by 10+, rather than be Tripped yourself. The Trip rules themselves contain no limitation, and allow Trip to substitute for ANY attack roll. If non-'trip weapons' WERE barred from making Trip attacks, that would mean Unarmed Strike would not be capable of Tripping, which is absurd.

I believe you are misinterpreting the rules for a trip attack. While a trip attack can be substituted for a melee weapon attack, you are not actually using the weapon to trip with. While the rules do not specifically say you are using your foot to hook their foot, the fact that you can be tripped by a badly failed trip roll strongly implies it.

Some weapons, notably those with hooks or chains, can be used in place of a body part. This has the advantage of allowing you to drop the weapon, something that you obviously cannot do if you are using one of your own appendages. Unless a weapon has the "Trip" special quality, it can not be used to make a trip attack.

Edit: You cannot, in fact, trip with an Unarmed Strike. An unarmed strike only deals damage, nothing else. Tripping (or Disarming) without a weapon is not the same thing as making an Unarmed Strike.


@mynameisjake:

If the interpretation you're suggesting IS the intended one, the rules need to be Errata'd to clearly convey this. Such a restriction would clearly pertain to the core functioning of the Trip ability, where it does not currently appear - only a possible inference in the "trip weapon" section, which isn't something you should need to reference if you're not using a 'trip weapon', anymore than the rules for double weapons should be necessary to 2WF with two separate weapons. The inferrence is weak for the same reasons the phrase 'girls can breathe' DOES NOT lead to 'boys cannot breathe'. I'm adding this to the Errata thread.


*shrug* Add what you like. But if you are expecting a detailed (and endless) list of what things cannot be used for, instead of a notation of what they can be used for, then I suspect that you are going to be disappointed.

I will agree, tho, that the Trip rules could use a line explaining that a weapon is not needed to perform the maneuver.


Mynameisjake wrote:
*shrug* Add what you like.

No need for lists of what you can't do.

Currently, Trip and Disarm use basically the same wording for saying how you effect them.
3.5 Trip specifically used Unarmed attacks by default.
PRPG doesn't contain this wording, which adds ONE word "Unarmed" to the phrase "in place of a melee attack".
3.5 weapon trips also didn't provoke even without Improved Trip, while PRPG apparently does, so I wouldn't assume it necessarily works exactly like 3.5 in this area.

Scarab Sages

Well here's a question that helps decide the answer to whether or not a weapon is used/needed to trip: If an unarmed character without Improved Unarmed Strike, but WITH Improved Trip, attempts a trip maneuver, does he provoke an attack of opportunity?


No, I do not believe so. IUS allows your unarmed strikes to deal lethal damage, and allows you to be considered 'armed' even without a weapon.

As far as I can tell, it is the Combat Maneuver that triggers an AoO, unless you have the relevant "Improved" feat. None of them seem to require a weapon or IUS. Disarm specifically mentions its use "while unarmed" and "without a weapon," but doesn't say anything about an additional or alternate triggering of AoO.

Under Weapon Qualities and Special in the Equipment, it says "Trip: You can use a trip weapon to make trip attacks. If you are tripped during your own trip attempt, you can drop the weapon to avoid being tripped." This indicates to me that a weapon is not normally needed to make a Trip attack, but there is a benefit if you do. If you don't need a weapon, then IUS shouldn't be necessary.

Additionally, under "Unarmed Strikes" (p182) it indicates that the definition of an unarmed strike is "Striking for damage with punches,
kicks, and head butts...."

There doesn't seem to be any interaction between IUS, AoO, and Combat Maneuvers.

Scarab Sages

Except that making an unarmed strike provokes an attack of opportunity (unless you have an ability that changes that, like Improved Unarmed Strike). Thus, in the above situation, the trip attack (which replaces a melee attack) does not provoke an AoO because of Improved Trip - but the question remains if the trip attacks provokes an AoO because the tripper is unarmed (and does not have an ability like Improved Unarmed Strike).

The question of a weapon is, for this particular question, irrelevant, but the answer to this question sheds light on whether or not a weapon is needed to trip.

So, if the answer is yes, in that situation there is still an AoO, then you can infer that one can trip with any weapon. If the answer is no, there is no AoO, then you can infer that only weapons with the 'trip' quality can be used to perform a trip maneuver.

FYI, I agree: you can trip with anything; the above is just how I got to that decision.


Quijenoth wrote:
Be aware though that the AoO happens before the action that causes it so you cannot trip someone who is trying to stand up from prone.

This is not correct. You can indeed Trip someone as an AoO who is trying to stand up.

An AoO does not "happen before" the action that provokes it. Rather, that provoking action begins, the AoO is resolved before the provoking action is completed, and then if it is not interrupted the provoking action continues. Basically, the AoO begins after the provoking action but ends before it.

Put another way, I have to actually start standing up before you get your AoO. If I just lay there on the ground you can't take a free attack because I haven't yet started rising.

Look at this realistically ... someone starts to get up from prone. Unless they have Jackie Chan acrobatics skill, they will use their hands to support themselves. Your AoO Trip is kicking their weight-bearing hands out from underneath them so that they fall back prone to the ground. The AoO begins after the action that provokes it, but is resolved first. If my Trip succeeds then they fall back to the ground and their attempt to rise is interrupted.

Of course, my kick could provoke an AoO and so they get a chance to stab my foot with a dagger or grab it to try to Trip me. Or if I fail to Trip them very badly then I stumble over them and fall down myself.

HTH,

Rez


Tom Baumbach wrote:
Except that making an unarmed strike provokes an attack of opportunity (unless you have an ability that changes that, like Improved Unarmed Strike).

Yes. Which has nothing to do with using the Trip combat maneuver, either with or without a weapon. An Unarmed Strike has a very strict definition of "Striking for damage with punches, kicks, and head butts...." That's it. Tripping is not the same thing as "Striking for damage with punches, kicks, and head butts." Unarmed Strikes provoke an AoO unless you have Improved Unarmed Strike. Trip provokes an AoO unless you have Improved Trip.

Tom Baumbach wrote:

*snip*

FYI, I agree: you can trip with anything; the above is just how I got to that decision.

No, you cannot "trip with anything." You can:

1. perform a Trip combat maneuver, or
2. perform a Trip combat maneuver with a weapon that has the Trip special quality.

If you do #1, then you are subject to being tripped in return. If you do #2, then, if subject to being tripped in return, you may drop the weapon instead.

Either way, you are subject to an AoO if you do not have the Improved Trip feat. Whether you have a weapon in hand, or no weapon at all, is irrelevant, unless that weapon has the trip special quality.

Scarab Sages

Mynameisjake wrote:
Unarmed Strikes provoke an AoO unless you have Improved Unarmed Strike. Trip provokes an AoO unless you have Improved Trip.

Right. And trip replaces a melee attack. If the melee attack that trip replaces is one that normally provokes an AoO, does the attack still provoke an AoO? An argument can be made for either side, that's all I've said.

Mynameisjake wrote:

No, you cannot "trip with anything." You can:

1. perform a Trip combat maneuver, or
2. perform a Trip combat maneuver with a weapon that has the Trip special quality.

Great, you've managed to agree with me AND make me look the fool. Well done. I'll be going now. exuent

Grand Lodge

Rezdave wrote:

This is not correct. You can indeed Trip someone as an AoO who is trying to stand up.

An AoO does not "happen before" the action that provokes it. Rather, that provoking action begins, the AoO is resolved before the provoking action is completed, and then if it is not interrupted the provoking action continues. Basically, the AoO begins after the provoking action but ends before it.

Put another way, I have to actually start standing up before you get your AoO. If I just lay there on the ground you can't take a free attack because I haven't yet started rising. "if you havent started rising you still have the prone condition though"

Look at this realistically ... someone starts to get up from prone. Unless they have Jackie Chan acrobatics skill, they will use their hands to support themselves. Your AoO Trip is kicking their weight-bearing hands out from underneath them so that they fall back prone to the ground. The AoO begins after the action that provokes it, but is resolved first. If my Trip succeeds then they fall back to the ground and their attempt to rise is interrupted.

Of course, my kick could provoke an AoO and so they get a chance to stab my foot with a dagger or grab it to try to Trip me. Or if I fail to Trip them very badly then I stumble over them and fall down myself.

HTH,

Rez

I disagree with you because of ease of play but understand where your realistic interpretation is coming from.

game mechanic wise tripping someone who is prone cannot apply the prone condition to someone who already has it the standing from prone attempts to remove the prone condition, if successful the target is no longer prone. if you trip as an AoO the turn of sequences would look like this...
P1 is prone - attempts to stand provoking an AoO
P2 gets AoO and trips - P1 now gains the Prone Condition
P1 completes his action and removes the prone condition
at the end of the round P1 is standing and can act normally, P2 has effectively wasted his AoO.

PRD wrote:
An attack of opportunity “interrupts” the normal flow of actions in the round. If an attack of opportunity is provoked, immediately resolve the attack of opportunity, then continue with the next character's turn (or complete the current turn, if the attack of opportunity was provoked in the midst of a character's turn).

Looking at it another way mechanically, all combat maneuvers state they provoke before the action is resolved and actions that provoke should follow the same rules...

PRD wrote:
Performing a combat maneuver: Unless otherwise noted, performing a combat maneuver provokes an attack of opportunity from the target of the maneuver. If you are hit by the target, you take the damage normally and apply that amount as a penalty to the attack roll to perform the maneuver.

On the realistic side lets say you want to allow someone to trip a prone target as they attempt to stand: firstly the target is still prone so they will gain the +4 bonus to AC from ranged and a -4 to AC from melee from your attack, secondly they are using hands and feet to stand and gain a +2 bonus for being stable. You could rule they have removed the prone condition negating the -4 AC but they would likely still be stable making a trip attempt harder than a regular attack.

Your successful trip cancels their attempt to stand making them prone again at the end of their move-equivalent action. the prone target can now make a second attempt (as their standard action) to stand and you are powerless to prevent it unless you have multiple attacks of opportunity. Running trip this way generally isnt too much of a hassle but when your dealing with a trip specialist fighter with reach weapons and combat reflexes the entire repeated trip mechanic becomes very confusing and powerful.

I personally have played a rogue/monk in 3.5 that specialised in trip with a Guisarme and unarmed strike - the DM got so frustrated with my character tripping 3+ opponents every round and keeping them on the floor permanently he ended up throwing in trip immune opponents just to prevent my character from dominating the battlefield.
This is when we decided as a group to look at the trip rules and agree you cant trip someone who is already prone or attempting to remove the prone condition.


Quite correct, Quijenoth.

On Combat Maneuvers with multiple attacks:

Some combat maneuvers can be performed in place of an attack action (trip, sunder, disarm). If you have multiple attacks, you can attempt these combat maneuvers multiple times in place of any or all of your attacks.

A combat maneuver is an attack roll, and is subject to all bonuses and penalties that said attack roll would have. "Combat maneuvers are attack rolls, so you must roll for concealment and take any other penalties that would normally apply to an attack roll." p. 199 PFCRB.

Thus, a 12th level fighter with 3 iterative attacks could attempt up to 3 sunder attempts as part of his full attack action. His second and third attacks, if used to make a sunder attempt, would be subject to a -5 and -10 penalties, respectively (or a reduction in his BAB by -5 and -10, if thats how you want to look at it, although that can raise some interesting problems that I won't address here) because he must "take any other penalties that would normally apply to an attack roll."

Likewise this works the same for two weapon fighting. Using a combat maneuver with an attack while two weapon fighting would include the appropriate two weapon fighting penalties on any such attack. So if our 12th level fighter had TWF and Improved TWF and is using a light weapon in his off hand (or a double weapon), giving him five attacks in all, he could use all five attacks to make a sunder attempt, incurring a penalty of -2 to all such attempts for TWF, and iterative attacks take the penalty to the CMB as normal.

Or if a 5th lvl fighter with a dire flail and without the TWF feat attempts to trip twice in one round with his double weapon, he would take penalties of -4 to his main hand attack and -8 to his off hand attack, and these would apply to any CMB maneuvers with those attacks.

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