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Shorten Grip: When wielding a pole arm with reach that you are proficient with, you may treat the weapon as if it did not have reach. The weapon is unwieldy when used in this fashion and you take a -2 penalty on attack rolls when attacking an opponent you normally could not. [Dragon Compendium p.108]

Does this mean that you actually threaten adjacent squares with a reach weapon and are allowed to make an attack of opportunity against adjacent foes, provided you take the -2 penalty on your attack roll?

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A typical creature that possesses Shorten Grip continuously threatens its adjacent squares with its pole arm

When a creature that possesses the feat Shorten Grip (Dragon Compendium Volume 1 108) wields an appropriate pole arm, the creature threatens adjacent squares with that pole arm all the time. Still, the creature suffers a −2 penalty on attack rolls with that pole arm when it makes attacks with that pole arm against adjacent foes.

There's no action cost—in Dragon #331 where the feat appeared originally, in the Compendium, or in the Compendium errata—for switching back an forth between this grip and another grip. The feat Shorten Grip just says that wielder "may treat the weapon as if it did not have reach," and so the creature does, the feat not imposing further conditions for doing so.

Compare the feat Shorten Grip with the feat Short Haft (Player's Handbook II 82) that requires the creature to take a swift action to remove the reach property from its pole arm and to take another swift action to grant once more that pole arm the reach property.

It's this lack of an action cost that makes the feat Shorten Grip, for most creatures, significantly better than the feat Short Haft, despite the Short Haft feat not penalizing attack rolls against adjacent foes. Further, the Shorten Grip feat's prerequisites are also more easily met than those of the feat Short Haft, the former having no prerequisites and the latter having as one of its prerequisites a base attack bonus of at least +3.

Nonetheless, in a campaign that bans Dragon magazine content and extends this ban to the Dragon Compendium Volume 1 but otherwise allows official content, the feat Shorten Grip simply won't be available, yet the feat Short Haft will. Also keep in mind that, rather than taking a feat to threaten adjacent squares with a pole arm, a creature could threaten adjacent squares while wielding a pole arm by also wielding one of the many weapons that requires no hands to use like armor spikes.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice parallel with Shorten Haft; it really makes the benefit more evident. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Feb 2 at 14:27
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Yes.

The benefit of the feat is permanent1: that is, the character can, at any point in time, consider the Reach weapons as either having Reach or not having Reach.

Thus, as part of a Full-Attack, a character could make a mix of attacks with Reach and without Reach, although each attack made without Reach would suffer a -2 penalty on the attack roll.

For Attack of Opportunities in particular, let us refer to the SRD:

You threaten all squares into which you can make a melee attack, even when it is not your action.

Since the Shorten Grip feat allows a character to make a melee attack both with Reach and without Reach, and in the apparent absence of any contradicting rule, it follows that said character threatens both areas.

As you noted, an Attack of Opportunity is a regular attack, and the character will therefore take a -2 penalty on the attack role when using the weapon without Reach to perform the Attack of Opportunity.

1 There is no action mentioned to switch grip, and no long-grip/short-grip state.


It is notable that there are many ways for a character wielding a Reach weapon to make Attacks of Opportunities in adjacent squares. Having the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, having a Natural Attack, or simply wearing Armor Spikes all allow such an attack, albeit without the bonuses linked to the Reach weapon.

Given that the Shorten Grip feat both requires taking a specific feat AND applies a penalty of -2 on the attack roll, it is, if anything, a rather weak feat.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm glad we reached the same conclusion! \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 2 at 14:12

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