That one time I got carried away by a giant eagle


Rules Discussion


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Can a giant eagle finish its movement after performing its Eagle Dive activity?

I'm wondering if it can swoop in, attack, grab, and fly away again in the same round.

Seems like that's the intent, but the rules don't seem to support it insofar as I can tell.


No, they don't. You generally have to finish one action before taking the next. So the eagle would swoop in and Strike with its talons (two actions), then Grap with its third. In the next round, it could fly off again and perhaps drop the poor target.


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Staffan Johansson wrote:
perhaps drop the poor target.

Free action, right?


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I don't think it can since you can't normally take half of a Stride then Strike then finish the Stride.

Looks like the most it could do is swoop in, attack, grab. And then would have to wait with the creature grabbed before flying away.


Pretty sure it is deliberate design that the target of potential dropped-by-flying-creature damage get a chance to escape first.


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Is there a way to make it work without having the eagle get slaughtered by the party before takeoff?

Edit: I guess it could still Stride in, Grapple, Stride away while using Snatch?

If it wasn't snatching, it could use Eagle Dive with Stride to perform effective hit and run maneuvers.

Seems to be coming together now, though I'm not sure why it would ever use Grab.


Ravingdork wrote:

Is there a way to make it work without having the eagle get slaughtered by the party before takeoff?

Edit: I guess it could still Stride in, Grapple, Stride away while using Snatch?

If it wasn't snatching, it could use Eagle Dive with Stride to perform effective hit and run maneuvers.

Seems to be coming together now, though I'm not sure why it would ever use Grab.

If you build out the other factors of the encounter, you can get a clearer picture of the when/how a giant eagle could start to fly away with a snatched target without getting slaughtered by the party first.

Two of the simplest ways are the lone opportunist giant eagle swooping in to grab a character (or pack animal, pet, etc.) that is a little bit isolated from the party in a terrain that provides plenty of cover for the eagle to utilize, and the giant eagle as part of a group - possibly of more giant eagles, but anything works so long as it can distract the party a bit and leave an opening for the eagle to try and exploit.


The eagle could ready an action since those don't alter initiative order in PF2. It flies closer, perhaps over the party & out of reach of melee weapons, then readies an action to move adjacent to the target, perhaps readied until after the target moves. It'd have to pick the target that goes before it in initiative (whichever it just saw move before it swooped in) so that nobody goes in-between. (For those that don't know, Giant Eagles have human-level intelligence and from their POV this tactic would be the simplest way to do what they'd be inclined to do given their innate abilities, i.e. Snatch.)

Being a PC, that target would be unlikely to Delay, so takes their turn and triggers the eagle. The eagle likely has enough move (60') to get to wherever their target stopped, so they go there, then take their normal turn. Strike/Grab/Fly away, preferably over a nearby chasm or precipice.
The eagle may even keep hold of the target rather than drop them this round because the threat of dropping the PC may keep other PCs from wanting to kill it.

Not sure why heroes are fighting a heroic bird though...

Rocs, funnily enough, have Improved Grab so get around needing such cunning.

And yes, Feather Fall is still a spell and neither bird should be able to get out of range that first round. :)


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Castilliano wrote:

The eagle could ready an action since those don't alter initiative order in PF2. It flies closer, perhaps over the party & out of reach of melee weapons, then readies an action to move adjacent to the target, perhaps readied until after the target moves. It'd have to pick the target that goes before it in initiative (whichever it just saw move before it swooped in) so that nobody goes in-between. (For those that don't know, Giant Eagles have human-level intelligence and from their POV this tactic would be the simplest way to do what they'd be inclined to do given their innate abilities, i.e. Snatch.)

So the plan is for the eagle to expose itself, opening it up as a potential target to a full round of ranged and spell attacks then, just before its next normal turn, swoop into melee reach. Then use it's full turn to snatch and fly away before the party can get a second round off.

Unless there's lots of cover, that doesn't seem much better to me.


Ravingdork wrote:
Castilliano wrote:

The eagle could ready an action since those don't alter initiative order in PF2. It flies closer, perhaps over the party & out of reach of melee weapons, then readies an action to move adjacent to the target, perhaps readied until after the target moves. It'd have to pick the target that goes before it in initiative (whichever it just saw move before it swooped in) so that nobody goes in-between. (For those that don't know, Giant Eagles have human-level intelligence and from their POV this tactic would be the simplest way to do what they'd be inclined to do given their innate abilities, i.e. Snatch.)

So the plan is for the eagle to expose itself, opening it up as a potential target to a full round of ranged and spell attacks then, just before its next normal turn, swoop into melee reach. Then use it's full turn to snatch and fly away before the party can get a second round off.

Unless there's lots of cover, that doesn't seem much better to me.

Depends much on context of if the party's ready for an aerial assault.

Assuming they are, then yes, it's not much better because Giant Eagles aren't meant to pull off such a maneuver and you're asking us to contrive a situation to force this tactic to work.
You want it to work, add cover. Or concealment. Or a fey that casts Invisibility.
You're obviously trying to imbalance the battle to favor the eagle so they can pull off a maneuver they aren't built to pull of in one round.

So in answer to your original question: No, they can't without contrivance.
And no, it doesn't seem they're intended to pull it off on round one, unlike the Roc which definitely is built to do so.
Given they're only level 3, facing a party with few resources to deal with flight or being carried off, it seems two rounds is scary enough.

ETA: Many low to mid-level monsters have signature moves that take more than one round to execute, assuming they have to move in their first round. It's not until later levels that some stages become combined actions or free actions.


A giant eagle also isn't meant to be snatching PCs up and away to eat thematically. They are neutral Good after all. When they hunt, they are hunting lone prey animals. A deer probably isn't going to have buddies to stab you if you're at ground level for a round.

Rocs are all about carrying people away, by contrast. Though as written they aren't as good at it as they should be. They can only fly at half speed while carrying a creature. The strange thing about this is the size of the creature is irrelevant. Half speed while carrying a Mastodon is one thing, but half speed while carrying a human is another. But that means that they can only gain altitude at 15 feet per move action. Though with flying strafe and their reach they can at least get a head start.


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Yeah, rocs are pretty nasty. Looks like they could swoop in and pretty easily fly away with not one, but two targets in a single round.

Castilliano wrote:
So in answer to your original question: No, they can't without contrivance.

Thank you everyone for your input. I think that pretty adequately answers my initial questions.

I also found that creatures can double or halve their fly speed depending on whether or not they are flying in the direction of the wind, so I might be able to use that to my advantage too.


Is the grab special ability not a free action?

So, (>>) eagle dive 120ft, make strike with talon.

If hit (F) grab attempt

(>) strike away 30ft

Or is the grab ability on triggered when it's last action was the strike action, and not simply triggered when it's last action/activity involved a strike with the appropriate attack?


Garretmander wrote:
Is the grab special ability not a free action?

Improved Grab is a free action, while Grab is a regular action. The benefit of the Grab special ability is that it doesn't require a check to establish the grab, just the action.


Garretmander wrote:

Is the grab special ability not a free action?

So, (>>) eagle dive 120ft, make strike with talon.

If hit (F) grab attempt

(>) strike away 30ft

Or is the grab ability on triggered when it's last action was the strike action, and not simply triggered when it's last action/activity involved a strike with the appropriate attack?

Grab is not a free action. It's an action after an attack w/ the Grab trait. Technically it's not triggered, but does have that prerequisite. A boss monster might prefer another attack instead, depending.

Improved Grab is a free action which is triggered. I don't think any low-level creatures have this. The Giant Anaconda and Giant Octopus at level 8 do not have this, while the Roc at level 9 does. But even the Kraken at level 18 and Marilith at 17 have normal Grab so there's more than just level involved. Likely the whole attack routine & damage is factored in, perhaps over multiple rounds. Improved Grab is not an ability to pass out lightly, and apparently not at all to creatures w/ Constrict. (That is only an impression, not research.)


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thenobledrake wrote:
Garretmander wrote:
Is the grab special ability not a free action?
Improved Grab is a free action, while Grab is a regular action. The benefit of the Grab special ability is that it doesn't require a check to establish the grab, just the action.

Ah, AoN brain fart, action symbols in the ability title are white... which confused me.

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