Opportune backstab and non-strike attacks


Rules Discussion


Opportune Backstab states that it triggers off of any "hit" by a melee attack.

1) Does this include melee spell attacks
2) Does this include athletics maneuvers and anything else with the Attack trait

I'd assume the answer is yes to both but never hurts to confirm.

Edit:
2a) if so, can it trigger twice off of something like knockdown/improved knockdown


1) It should apply, yes.
2) No, I don't think so. Athletics maneuver are still considered skill checks, not attack rolls (despite having the attack trait). I'm also not sure they strictly qualify as "melee".


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Blave wrote:

1) It should apply, yes.

2) No, I don't think so. Athletics maneuver are still considered skill checks, not attack rolls (despite having the attack trait). I'm also not sure they strictly qualify as "melee".

Regarding 2, Backstab only asks for attacks, not attack rolls (yes it's confusing, who knows why Paizo decided to make this a distinction worth mattering).

But 'melee' seems to be a game term and I'm fairly sure grappling and tripping don't qualify even though they are attacks you make in melee range.


Re: melee as a game term
There are specific weapon traits for distinguishing something like Bola's ranged (explicit) trip vs a guisarme's trip (melee being how the rules text calls out your reach). With this in mind would you still make the distinction of it not being explicitly called melee?


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The key word is 'hit'. Another important word is 'melee', yes. But you don't 'hit' with a trip or grapple. You succeed at the skill check, but that isn't called a 'hit'.


How can we still be getting this wrong?

Attack is a Strike or another attack action.

A grapple/trip/shove/escape/reposition/ray of frost are all attacks still.

Melee is not really cleanly defined. But it has to be within your reach. And it is not a ranged attack.

So the answers are:
1) Yes
2) No. (Even though it is not an attack roll, they are still attacks. However only attack rolls can hit - skill checks succeed)
2a) No. You can trigger off actions that are part of a larger activity. But a trip does not hit.

There is some really weird stuff in Animal Companions eg Vulture's support benefit just requires you to hit and deal damage. Most of the others mention Strike but the wordings are all over the place.


Also, considering how many places there are that had to have 'attack' changed to 'strike' in errata, I wouldn't be surprised if it is intended that Opportune Backstab is supposed to only trigger on melee strike.

But until that errata happens, I would allow melee spell attacks too.


Gortle wrote:

How can we still be getting this wrong?

It's because unlike a lot of other places that specify attack rolls (like finesse) this specific place only called for a hit by a melee attack which left room for ambiguity. But as has been stated, athletics maneuvers don't hit so that's out. A quick ctrl-f of the player core only mentions hitting in relation to landing strikes as well. Oh well.

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