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I had my player ask for an interesting action in last night's session and I had trouble adjucating it on the fly:

He wanted to attempt a Disarm on the Big Bad and, if successful, try to get the weapon away from him to capitalize on the first maneuver. He would be using a weapon to Disarm, so no auto-pickup.

I first looked at it "by the rules":

  • Disarm success = weapon dropped in enemy's square
  • Picking up at object is a Move action but you need to be in the square where the item is
  • You cannot end your movement in the same square as an opponent

Based on this, it seemed impossible, which would be silly. So I thought to bring things back to more generic mechanics of combat, namely Combat Maneuvers. While he didn't want to push/move the enemy, he wanted to do something normally forbidden and that, it seemed, the opponent should have a say in, even if it was not his turn. Maneuvers seemed fitting, so I suggested to do just that, with the usual maneuver trappings (AOO, applying bonus/penalties of a regular melee attack, etc...)

How would you adjudicate picking up an item in the opponent's square during combat? Are maneuvers a good fallback rule or would they lead to unforeseen consequences? Any better ways to deal with this?

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up vote 15 down vote accepted

On the d20SRD, next to the "pick up an item," there is a FAQ linked that covers this. You can pick something up within your reach (which seems to qualify in this case) and it provokes an AoO. Notice that reaching into a threatened square doesn't provoke, just reaching while someone threatens you. So you don't have to be in their square, just be able to reach into it.

For purposes of evading the AoO, that's a different story. There's no way RAW ("Improved Pickup!") but it is certainly reasonable to allow an Acrobatics "move through opponent's square" check to do so. Of course you could always bull rush or otherwise move the opponent so they don't threaten you and then pick it up, or mage hand it, or a variety of other options - allowing innovation here is fine (attack it to move it, Sleight of Hand, etc.). Just make sure that enemies can also disarm and snarf the PCs' weapons as easily as they can...

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First of all, I'll assume your player did his disarm with a weapon(and wasn't a monk/didn't have-use improved unarmed strike/a free hand) as if that was the case a successful disarm = an automatic pick up of the dropped item.

Also, under the section that covers picking up an item, it doesn't actually specify that you must be in the space of the item. The part you cited is from 3.5's disarm rules not Pathfinder's.

Now then, as a fairly reasonable ruling, you could decide the player could acrobatics through the opponent's space and grab the item at the same time(two move actions) without having to worry about AoO, or could simply walk through and grab the item and take the AoO(which would also let them counter-AoO if the baddie didn't have a natural weapon/additional weapon in hand/improved unarmed strike, ect).

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My personal resolution would be to offer the player a Sleight of Hand check. If successful they can snag the item without provoking an AoO. I would set it as DC 20 as though swiping an item from an unaware noncombatant.

Conversely, I would allow them to use their next attack in line to strike at the item (AC 12 for a Tiny item). Instead of damage, the item is moved Str mod squares away (min 1)

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