I know it is silly, but reading the Knock-Down feat coupled with the Improved Trip feat it is hard not to wonder if there is any limitation on tripping an opponent who is already prone?

This could theoretically lead to infinite attack chains, which is bad, but I am curious nonetheless.


2 Answers 2


You can trip a prone opponent, but it's pointless.

First, let's look at the basic case. Trip is an action you can take against an opponent as a melee attack. The only requirement is that the opponent is no more than one size category larger than you. There is no requirement that the target be standing.

However, since the only effect of being tripped is becoming prone, successfully tripping a prone target will have no additional effect*.

Now let's consider the feats.

If you deal 10 damage in melee combat, you can make a trip attack as a free action as per Knock-Down. However, Improved Trip says:

If you trip an opponent in melee combat, you immediately get a melee attack against that opponent as if you hadn’t used your attack for the trip attempt.

This implies that the game expects Improved Trip to occur only when you use it in place of an attack. If you make an trip attack as a free action using Knock-Down, you won't get the extra melee attack from Improved Trip.

As Hey I Can Chan mentions, this interaction is expressly forbidden in the errata for Knock-Down:

Use of this feat cannot be combined with Improved Trip to generate an extra attack

Finally, let's consider the practicality of generating infinite free actions. The rules say:

there may be limits to the number of free actions you can perform in a turn.

It's within the GM's power to prevent additional free actions beyond what could reasonably be possible within a combat round.

*There may be exceptions, such as a terrain that damages creatures that fall prone, but falling prone implies they were not previously prone. A GM may allow the damage anyway (representing you flinging or pushing the target around on the damaging terrain).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, you didn't use your attack for the trip attempt, as it was a freebie... That's ambiguousousous... Still, good answer to the circumstance although I'd like how you came to the answer for the actual question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Weckar E.
    May 23, 2017 at 12:52
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @WeckarE. It was ambiguous enough that combining Improved Trip and Knock-down was explicitly prohibited by the errata for Sword and Fist (where the feat originally appeared). \$\endgroup\$ May 23, 2017 at 13:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WeckarE. I've discussed the restriction at the beginning, and added a reference to the errata HICC mentioned. Hopefully that's a bit more complete! \$\endgroup\$
    – Samthere
    May 23, 2017 at 13:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ "falling prone implies they were not previously prone" Uh - Why is that any different? \$\endgroup\$
    – Wyrmwood
    May 23, 2017 at 15:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure exactly what you're asking, but if a book said "any creature that falls prone on this spiky ground takes 1d6 damage" I'd take the term falls prone to be distinct from "is prone" or "remains prone". I don't have an example of terrain doing that so it was speculation. \$\endgroup\$
    – Samthere
    May 23, 2017 at 17:14

From D&D FAQ v.3.5 p71 (first bold is the question, second bold emphasis is mine): Prone characters cannot be tripped.

When a character gets up from prone, when does the attack of opportunity take place? When he is still prone? When he is standing? Can the attacker choose when to attack? In one case, the attacker can get a +4 bonus to hit. In the other, he can make another trip attack.

All attacks of opportunity happen before the actions that trigger them (see Chapter 8 in the PH). When you make an attack of opportunity against someone who’s getting up, your target is effectively prone, and therefore cannot be tripped. You could ready an action to trip a prone foe after he gets up, however.

I also recall this rule from gameplay but didn't spend more time digging up sources once I found one.

  • \$\begingroup\$ FAQ is a pretty sketchy as a resource, unfortunately. \$\endgroup\$
    – Weckar E.
    May 24, 2017 at 9:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ A point about the way the reaction timing works is that, even if you could trip as an AoO from standing up, the trip would happen first. This means they'd stand up regardless of your success or failure at tripping. \$\endgroup\$
    – Samthere
    May 24, 2017 at 12:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Samthere I agree tho I consider that tangential. Sketchy or no, I had to decide between quoting with no context and quoting with and went with with. I wasn't trying to sell the rest of the answer as on topic=) \$\endgroup\$
    – joedragons
    May 24, 2017 at 20:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ No complaints about the answer, just mentioning the timing there c: \$\endgroup\$
    – Samthere
    May 24, 2017 at 23:56

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .