Improved Combat Maneuver Suggestons

Homebrew and House Rules

Combat Maneuvers. Love them or hate them, they seem to have a lot of confusion around them, and a lot of feat taxes limiting their effectiveness.
To even attempt a combat maneuver seriously, you're almost forced to take the Improved X feat.

My question to you all is, what house rules have you encountered to encourage the use and ease of combat maneuvers?

Removal of Improved X feats entirely? Reworkings of vanilla combat maneuvers?

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My friend tends to run grapple rules much more liberally. Essentially, maintaining a grapple is a move action, but you do not receive the free action that comes with maintaining a grapple. You must use a standard action to pin, attack, or move the opponent. This gives much more freedom in what you can do during a grapple.

I once grappled a drake and used it as an improvised weapon against another opponent.

The Dirty Fighting feat is a powerhouse, when it comes to maneuvers:

1) It removes Int 13, Dex 13, Combat Expertise and Improved Unarmed Strike as prerequisites for improved maneuver feats.
2) You can forego your flanking bonus on CMB to not provoke an AOO. Yes, was surprised myself that there is such a flanking bonus.
3) With the according improved maneuver feat you can instead get a +4 flanking bonus on CMB.

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Though my group runs combat maneuvers RAW (we try to minimize the # of house rules we use), I've previously read a house where combat maneuvers only provoked when the maneuver failed or has the appropriate Improved feat.

I grouped the Improved feats together basically so they serve as a gateway to doing combat maneuvers without such a steep cost. Sunder, drag, over run and bull rush are one feat and reposition, disarm, trip, and dirty trick are another (Improved grapple stays by itself as the odd man out for needing a different prerequisite with Improved Unarmed Strike).

Grouping Improved X feats under one umbrella feat is a pretty cool idea, so is the only provoking attacks of opportunity if it fails/if the defender has the improved feat themselves.

The provoking after the maneuver fails is actually a HUGE boon.

In the current rules any damage sustained from the AOO provoked by attempting an untrained maneuver is applied as a penalty on the check. A penalty that gets effectively removed if you provoke after the maneuver in question.

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