So a scenario came up (we temporarily ruled it as a 'Yes', but we're still looking into it, in order to not Rules-Lawyer for an hour) in my game tonight and we couldn't decide on a consensus:

There's Large creature who has 10-ft reach. Adjacent, our Monk was between the creature and an ally, who was behind with a reach weapon (not Lunging). If the creature took an attack on the person in the back, could this feasibly provoke an AoO from the Monk, for reaching directly over/through the square of the Monk? Or is there a rule that I can't find specifically stating against this? I've looked around, but haven't been able to find anything.

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    \$\begingroup\$ We need more context here. What provoked this attack of opportunity? Or are you asking if an opponent in front of you attacks someone behind you can provoke attacks of opportunity? \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 10:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Basically just that he reached directly through a square that was occupied, aiming for something behind that square. Since it would require leaving themselves at least slightly open to reach PAST someone with an appendage, we deemed it to provoke (house-ruling) when this happens. Even though it's not moving through a threatened square or making an action that normally provokes, we said that reaching through a threatened square would count as provoking. We also decided, by this same logic, that Lunging through an occupied square would provoke. \$\endgroup\$
    – Aleck
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 22:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ That house rule makes using a reach weapon on the reach weapon user's turn almost as dangerous as using a ranged weapon while being threatened. Expect fewer reach weapons to be used in your game's future, and expect big monsters to die as their limbs are hacked at when they provoke attacks of opportunity this way using their natural reach. (Big monsters are supposed to be dangerous, and this house rule makes them less so, but that's cool: maybe that's what you're after.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 2:10

3 Answers 3


No, the Large creature would not provoke an AoO:

AoO Threatened Squares

You threaten all squares into which you can make a melee attack, even when it is not your turn. Generally, that means everything in all squares adjacent to your space (including diagonally). An enemy that takes certain actions while in a threatened square provokes an attack of opportunity from you. If you’re unarmed, you don’t normally threaten any squares and thus can’t make attacks of opportunity.

Reach Weapons

Most creatures of Medium or smaller size have a reach of only 5 feet. This means that they can make melee attacks only against creatures up to 5 feet (1 square) away. However, Small and Medium creatures wielding reach weapons threaten more squares than a typical creature. In addition, most creatures larger than Medium have a natural reach of 10 feet or more.

Provoking an Attack of Opportunity

Two kinds of actions can provoke attacks of opportunity: moving out of a threatened square and performing certain actions within a threatened square.

None of the actions I could find on that listed reaching through an ally to reach you. Since the PC behind the monk was considered "reachable" and no movement was taken in/out of threatened squares, the creature does not provoke an AoO from either PC. (Although GM ruling can always modify this for particular uses, i.e. story or "just because".)

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1. Some additional points: if instead of a large creature, the enemy was medium sized and used a reach weapon, it probably wouldn't have made any sense that he'd provoke AoO for attacking - PF treats armed and natural attacks in the same way for this kind of scenario. However, the fact that there's a monk in the way should've given cover to ally (and vice-versa). \$\endgroup\$
    – G0BLiN
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 13:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I saw this stuff in the rules, but it didn't really click right with the GM, so he decided that this action (reaching through an occupied square with reach or Lunge) would provoke an attack from the occupied square. It makes sense to all of us, so it's just kind of become a house-rule since there's not really anything directly addressing this. \$\endgroup\$
    – Aleck
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 22:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Aleck I can understand the logic behind treating it as provoking an AoO, but specifically it mentions that unarmed strikes (without the requisite feat) cannot provoke AoO's anyway, since they don't "threaten" squares around them. Even though it's a "Lunge", for the sake of actual map-combat the creature isn't moving into the square occupied by the Monk, and it isn't moving closer to the PC behind the monk. However, again, it is up to your GM and I'm glad he uses in-house rules that agree with everyone. :3 \$\endgroup\$
    – th3_razzer
    Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 2:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @G0BLiN as the large creature can chose which of his squares to attack from a single medium sized creature would not grant cover. \$\endgroup\$
    – Umbranus
    Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 7:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @th3_razzer Actually the bit about unarmed is the reverse: when you are unarmed, you don't threaten anything, so you can never make an AoO on anything. You can still provoke them onto yourself. (I presume monk overrides this with a class feature or sommat.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Weaver
    Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 12:15

The large creature with reach did not move out of a square threatened by the monk, it just used its reach to attack someone within its reach so there doesn't seem to be a reason for provoking.

Just reaching into or though a threatened square does not provoke an AoO.


RAW and RAI were addressed in the other answers, no, it does not make an AoO for using its reach.

It only makes sense when the creature is so massive that its appendages can be considered individually for an attack.

I once created/used a monster that had extensible tentacles. It was a Gargantuan creature, but its bulky, amorphous body (I think it was some sort of mutant deepspawn) sat in the back of the 150' square room. It had 100' reach with those tentacles and could make 8 attacks each round with them with unlimited AoO (still only once per target) in a round, but tentacles needed to move into the space of the target in order to attack / grapple / do hentai stuff.

So a character in the path of a tentacle could try and cut a tentacle using her own AoO. If the tentacle HP dropped to zero, it would be cut and the attack wasted. It would allow for tanks/DPS to protect the support characters. You could attack the tentacle coming for you if you triggered an AoO too.

I can't get the statistics right now, but the tentacles were very squishy (low AC for its parent's CR and also about 12 HP each), could regrow in 2 rounds.

It made for a very interesting boss battle, and an epic tactical scenario, with the melee combatants deliberately provoking AoO in order to slice tentacles, and the paladin strategically positioning himself in order to protect the spellcasters' movement path.


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