Crusader with the Martial Spirit stance that also has the feats Improved Trip and Knockdown. If the crusader hits for over 10 points of damage, they would be allowed to trip the target. If the trip is successful, they would get another strike on the foe due to Improved Trip.

The question is: would the crusader be healing themselves 4 or 6 points of healing from Martial Spirit? Do both the touch attack to trip and the follow-up attack from Improved Trip each count as an attack that they would get credit for?


2 Answers 2


Rules as written, Knock-Down allows an attack dealing 10+ damage to trigger a trip “attack,” which starts with a touch attack, and then Improved Trip allows a follow-up attack against the tripped target. That’s 3 melee attacks, so martial spirit heals 3 times (for 2 hp each). That healing may be applied to the crusader or any ally within 30 feet.

That said, everyone I’ve ever played with has treated the 10+ damage attack as replacing the touch attack to start a trip. That is, with Knock-Down, instead of starting a trip with a zero-damage touch attack, you can make a regular attack and as long as you deal 10+ damage, you start the trip. Rather than having another touch attack at that point, we just have you roll your opposed Strength check to trip the target. Played this way, there are only two attacks, the initial one and the follow-up from Improved Trip, so martial spirit only triggers twice. The opposed Strength check definitely does not trigger martial spirit.

I think either way is fair enough, but points in favor of nixing the touch attack are:

  • It saves time rolling. Note that touch attacks are generally extremely reliable, particularly against a foe you just struck with a non-touch attack, so removing the touch attack doesn’t appreciably improve Knock-Down.

  • It seems more accurate to the narrative—with Knock-Down, you are tripping with your 10+ damage attack. So why would you roll a separate attack? I guess you could argue that your 10+ damage attack broke your opponent’s guard enough for you to sneak in an extra attack, but that seems like a stretch. And the feat is called Knock-Down, after all.

  • It avoids weird corner-cases like this.

Another approach I’ve seen people take is to require attacks that trigger martial spirit (and aura of triumph and all of the healing strikes) be real attacks that actually deal damage. I don’t love this—particularly if you consider the awesome possibility of Stormguard Warrior’s combat rhythm being used with them, since that definitely seems like it should qualify. On the other hand, allowing zero-damage touch attacks to trigger martial spirit and aura of triumph does allow you to pretty much automatically heal the entire party to full, for free, after every fight, by just hugging a lot (starting and dropping grapples). In a game where a wand of cure light wounds obviates inter-combat healing as early as 2nd level, though, I’m not sure how much anyone should care.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Unless an answer is fundamentally wrong, consider pointing out the reasons of downvotes. It helps both contributors (to make their answers better) and readers (for whom one possible particular mistake in otherwise solid answer may slip unnoticed). \$\endgroup\$ Apr 4, 2022 at 6:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok I will look into doing it, I am still learning the system. \$\endgroup\$
    – DRochon
    Apr 4, 2022 at 16:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I like your answer about replacing the touch attack but if a character 2 attacks around that has reduced their healing potential from 12 points to 8 points. That is a serious reduction. \$\endgroup\$
    – DRochon
    Apr 4, 2022 at 16:06
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @DRochon Potentially, though I would not generally consider “you get an extra attack to trigger martial spirit with” an intended or significant part of Knock-Down; it seems more coincidental than anything else. That said, sure, allow it if you prefer to include the option for more healing—but you should know that 2 or 4 hp is basically never “serious” except maybe at 1st level. It’s a tiny amount of hp, a fraction of a single attack. Also, you cannot trip something that’s already prone, so even if you allow it, you can’t do it twice in the same turn (to the same target, anyway). \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Apr 4, 2022 at 16:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see the potential as helping a tank to keep tanking again multiple smaller opposites. You are right that as a player gains levels this will matter less and less. The potential bonus I see is in the first few levels and in campaigns where healing is difficult. \$\endgroup\$
    – DRochon
    Apr 4, 2022 at 18:15

RAW, crusader will get 6 points of healing

Unfortunately, the feat's description is short and simple:

...you make a trip attack...

Rules do include basically all mechanics of a trip combat maneuver into the term "trip attack". They are touch attack, possible attack of opportunity, strength check, and possible counter-trip.

If your DM is strict about the rules, you (assuming success on every list item) then:

  • hit for damage;
  • make a touch attack and a strength check;
  • hit for damage again via Improved Trip.


I think, crusader should get 2 points of healing

We may only guess about RAI in most cases, but there are game elements which are just obviously ill- or under-defined. Knock-down isn't the worst case, but considering slight controversy between its description and benefit, considering my gut feeling about maneuvers' mechanic in the game, I'd say feat actually talks (or should talk) about strength check only, when it says "trip attack".

First, it says in it's description, that it is your mighty blow, what knocks foes off their feet. No need of unarmed attack or an attack with some special weapon, based on the description.

Second, based on similar combat maneuver improver like improved grab:

...without provoking an attack of opportunity. No initial touch attack is required...
...A successful hold does not deal any extra damage...

you shouldn't bother with touch attack, attack of opportunity and counter-trip. You just knock your foe off his feet, or he manages to stay on his feet.

You also shouldn't get more "real" attacks. The thing is that regularily with Improved Trip, you get a "real" attack once - the attack, that actually deals damage. I suppose, an intent here is that just knocking your foe off his feet is too little of a benefit, so authors made it, you are still able to do your melee damage.

It is "trip + damage" with Improved Trip, and with Knock-down it should now be "damage + trip", not "damage +trip +damage". For abovementioned improved grab example it is similarily "damage +hold" and not "damage +hold +damage (as part of a hold)".

If you need additional rules basis for the part about not getting free additional attack, Improved Trip says:

...you [...] get a melee attack [...] as if you hadn’t used your attack for the trip attempt...

so it may be argued, you need to use an attack for the trip attempt to get that second free attack via Improved Trip. Using Knock-down, you hadn’t used your attack for the trip attempt, you had used it for a regular attack (with a rider effect).

Final order of your attack will then look like this:

  • hit for damage;
  • strength check.
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just 2? You explain why you wouldn’t include the touch attack for the trip, but what about the follow-up attack for Improved Trip? \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Apr 4, 2022 at 12:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan No, I think it should be just one hit, and, if there is 10+ damage, one strength check. No follow-up attack from improved trip, no counter-trip if strength check failed, etc. It seems, I should expand an answer to make it clear... \$\endgroup\$ Apr 4, 2022 at 14:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Oh, so you’re saying Knock-Down replaces Improved Trip? I wonder—if that were the case, why doesn’t Knock-Down say anything about that anywhere in its description? It’s not like they forgot Improved Trip exists—they remembered it long enough to include it among Knock-Down’s prerequisites. Quite honestly, I’m struggling to see any justification—from rules, game-design, narrative—for that ruling. Your comparison with improved grab is sort of telling, really—there, they spell out how it’s changing the order, so the effect is explicit. Seems they’d do the same with Knock-Down if they’d wanted. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Apr 4, 2022 at 14:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Well, tried to address your comment. Hope it is less confusing now. \$\endgroup\$ May 10, 2022 at 5:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan According to HeyICanChan's answer to a related question, Knock-down actually says exactly about incompatibility with Improved Trip in Sword and Fist errata. Still, didn't get from the answer, if it takes precedence over Deities and Demigods, and if the later even apply to non-deity PCs. \$\endgroup\$ May 15, 2022 at 20:01

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