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The monster feat Awesome Blow says in part:

If the creature’s maneuver succeeds against a corporeal opponent smaller than itself, its opponent takes damage (typically slam damage plus Strength bonus) and is knocked flying 10 feet in a direction of the attacking creature’s choice and falls prone.

The way I read that, the intent is that a giant with Awesome Blow knocks the opponent North or West or another cardinal direction. What about knocking the opponent straight up in the air ten feet? The opponent still takes 1d6 damage from the fall hitting the ground, same as if hitting an obstacle like a wall. The opponent does not "move closer to the attacking creature than the square it started in."

I'm not talking about punching an opponent into the ceiling for 1d6 damage followed by the opponent hitting the floor for 1d6 more damage... as cool as that sounds....

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In general, the game is played two-dimensionally, even when things such as burrowing, swimming and flight are involved. Rather than tracking movement in all three dimensions, the game generally abstracts things by using a 2d map, and adding height to a few select items when required. This is reinforced by a commonly-quoted FAQ about flying and diagonal movement, which can be found here.

When a character or creature is flying, and that creature decides to ascend at a 45 degree angle, the rules states that it moves at half speed? Do the rules for diagonal square counting still apply when moving up diagonally in this way?

No. Since the game is generally assumed to be played in two dimensions, even when representing three dimensional combat, the rules for ascending are handled by the speed reduction instead of asking players and GMs to ascertain the diagonal vertical movement.

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