Without Improved Unarmed Strike, does an improved disarm attempt provoke attacks of opportunity?
I think that the PC provokes an attack of opportunity for making the disarm attempt unarmed. Put simply, I read disarm as an attack.
No. Specific overrules general and disarm specifically calls out Improved Disarm as how to overcome the attack of opportunity.
This question highlights some inconsistencies in the dnd-3.5 rules, with respect to Attacks of Opportunity and Special Attacks.
AoOs are provoked under two circumstances; moving out of a threatened square or performing a provoking action while in a threatened square. The latter is sometimes described in the text of the action (skill use or special attack, perhaps others) and also whether or not an action provokes is listed in the tables under Actions in Combat.
Where it starts to get confusing is in the text for each special attack. For example, in bull rush:
First, you move into the defender’s space. Doing this provokes an attack of opportunity
Is this a poor choice of words? Meaning, it should read
First, you move into the defender’s space which requires moving out of a square threatened by the defender…
Or is this some sort of expansion, where both moving out of a threatened square and moving into an enemy’s square provoke? If you don’t move, do you still provoke for a bull rush attempt?
This is also similarly mentioned on Overrun,
Since you begin the overrun by moving into the defender’s space, you provoke an attack of opportunity
Further, grapple, disarm and sunder don’t give a reason, they just state that they provoke.
And trip specifically calls out the AoO is for making an unarmed attack.
Make an unarmed melee touch attack against your target. This provokes an attack of opportunity from your target as normal for unarmed attacks.
Does an attacker attempting a trip provoke if they have Improved Unarmed Strike?
Avoiding Attacks of Opportunity
If you have the Improved Trip feat...
This leaves quite a bit of room for interpretation. Does an attacker attempting to grapple or an unarmed bull rush provoke 4 times, once for moving out of a threatened square, one for moving into a defender’s space, one for making an unarmed attack and one for the special opposed attack?
Here’s how I handle it, but it’s really house rules at this point, since this is unclear.
- Bull rush, disarm, grapple, overrun and sunder all provoke from the defender for the special attack itself, unless the attacker has Improved [special attack].
- Trip provokes from the defender unless the attacker has Improved Trip or attacks with a weapon.
- Improved Unarmed Strike is not required to make an unarmed special attack, nor is it sufficient to prevent provoking without the Improved [Special Attack] feat.
- Only one AoO is ever provoked from the defender for making a special opposed attack.
- However, with any movement before or after the attack, such as with bull rush, overrun or grapple, moving out of a threatened square provokes as normal for everyone except the defender.
- Movement provokes from the defender if the defender is not moving (like an Overrun where the defender avoids), but not if the defender is moving with the attacker. Improved [Special Attack] never prevents AoOs from being provoked for movement.
- AoOs must be taken by a weapon that threatened at the time the attack was provoked and whether or not you threaten is determined by the what you wield at the time the provoking action occurs.
The PC's player claims that his PC does not provoke an attack of opportunity for three reasons:
A disarm is not an attack as such, but an attack-equivalent action, which he simply interprets as a standard action.
An opposed special attack roll is an opposed melee attack roll, so this is not correct.
The Improved Disarm feat overrules the unarmed strike rules in this particular case.
This is correct; specific disarm rules apply instead of the general unarmed melee attack rules.
The PC's considered armed because the PC's still wielding a melee weapon. Who's right?
This is another area that is not explicitly called out in the rules. In my house rules, wielding a threatening weapon does not impact actions taken with a weapon that does not threaten. Hey I Can Chan makes a compelling argument for this case.