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In my time playing 3.5, Improved Trip has been the go to over all the other Improved "other actions".

Improved Trip

Benefit: You do not provoke an attack of opportunity when you attempt to trip an opponent while you are unarmed. You also gain a +4 bonus on your Strength check to trip your opponent.

If you trip an opponent in melee combat, you immediately get a melee attack against that opponent as if you hadn’t used your attack for the trip attempt.

There are threads and handbooks dedicated to this tactic. I do not believe it is not over powered other than the standing mechanism for standing is where I think the issue lies.

Stand Up

Standing up from a prone position requires a move action and provokes attacks of opportunity.

Have rules been introduced that helps mitigate this problem? Examples: 5 ranks in tumble allow for standing up with out provoking an AoO or rolling "x" on certain skills prevents the AoO. Example using bluff or intimidate.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What's the problem that needs to be mitigated? \$\endgroup\$
    – minnmass
    May 2, 2022 at 14:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ My understanding of this question is “are there ways to stand up from prone without provoking an attack of opportunity?” Is that accurate? \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 2, 2022 at 15:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ You may be interested in this question and also possibly this question. In short, I feel your pain. \$\endgroup\$ May 2, 2022 at 15:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Needs more clarity on "this problem" that is to be mitigated - Is the problem "successfully tripping a creature allows you to make two attacks for the price of one"? \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim C
    May 5, 2022 at 2:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is your problem the combination of attack on trip AND AoO on stand? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    May 11, 2022 at 5:02

2 Answers 2

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Possible official solutions

Most of these require being prepared for this situation and have the appropriate class/feat/skill trick/magic item, but they work. The ones that don’t require any of those things... maybe work, maybe.

Epic Tumble

Per the Epic Level Handbook, standing from prone as a free action is possible with a DC 35 Tumble check. According to the core rules,

Free actions rarely incur attacks of opportunity.

RAW, nothing in core/SRD says that standing from prone as a free action with the appropriate Tumble check causes standing to no longer provoke, but it would seem appropriate, and bear in mind that Epic Level Handbook was written for 3e and only “updated” later, and in 3e standing didn’t provoke.

However, Rules Compendium also covers this rule on page 94, and explicitly says

Standing in this way still provokes attacks of opportunity.

Get to your knees first, then stand

The core combat modifier rules mention kneeling, which has half the penalties of being prone. There is no listed action for moving from prone to kneeling, or from kneeling to standing, but many feel comfortable assuming they’re each probably move actions. Since there’s no listed action for them, there’s nothing that says they provoke—so some have argued they don’t.

In this way, you can stand by taking two move actions (your full turn outside of swift or free actions) without provoking. But it requires enormous amounts of squinting to pretend this is an official rule. People do it, but they’re really projecting; it’s a reasonable enough ruling but the rules really don’t endorse it.

Personally, my read of the situation is that kneeling is a type of standing, and you can kneel or stand from kneeling as a free action, without provoking, but moving from prone to kneeling is the same as moving from prone to standing and requires the same action and provokes the same attack. I don’t know that this is a good ruling (it’s never come up in my games), but it seems like a more honest reading of the rules.

Buy a pair of boots of agile leaping

The boots of agile leaping from Magic Item Compendium allow you to stand from prone as a swift action that doesn’t provoke if you have 5 ranks in Balance. Simple, and they’re really cheap, so... I guess everybody should just buy them? Everyone should already prioritize 5 ranks in Balance, since you need that to avoid being flat-footed any time you’re balancing.

Get skilled and get tricky

There are two different skill tricks that enable standing without provoking, Nimble Stand and Back on Your Feet (which also enables the standing as an immediate action). Nimble Stand requires 8 ranks in Tumble while Back on Your Feet requires 12, so that’s a minimum of 5th and 9th level, respectively, which is a bit rough. More importantly, skill tricks are only usable once per encounter.

There’s a stand spell

The spell stand from Player’s Handbook II is a 1st-level spell that stands the target up from prone as an immediate action without provoking. Immediate-action spells don’t provoke, either, so this is effective if, ya know, you have 1st-level spells from an appropriate list (sor/wiz or duskblade, officially).

Thief-acrobats get kip up

A 1st-level thief-acrobat (Complete Adventurer) gets “kip up,” which is a free-action stand from prone that explicitly doesn’t provoke. Requirements are mostly trivial (no feats, quite a few skill ranks but in good skills), but you do need to have evasion which can be a bit of a pain.

Important context:

All that said, on the broader issue of trip and other maneuvers...

Attacks of opportunity resolve before the provoking action

...so you cannot trip someone who is standing from prone, because when you make the attack, they already are prone. Since you can’t trip them, you do not get the extra attack from Improved Trip.

That means that, with Improved Trip, you get to trip with a follow-up attack, and then attack of opportunity again when they stand, but then after that they are standing and can now act normally. They have to do something that provokes another attack of opportunity for the tripper to have a chance to knock them down again.

Trip is strong, ish. Other maneuvers are just awful.

Trip is pretty strong. It’s got nothing on even low-level spells, but still, pretty decent maneuver. And for that reason, you see it completely overshadowing every other maneuver.

Because every other maneuver is not “pretty decent.” They’re outright terrible.

So looking to nerf trip is a poor choice, because trip is the one maneuver actually worth using, the one “Improved X” worth having.

  • Bull rush is great for dungeoncrashers (Dungeonscape), but otherwise extremely situational. Still, Improved Bull Rush is a great feat because it’s required for Shock Trooper. A shock trooper will never waste a turn on bull rush rather than a pouncing charge, but still.

  • Disarm is useless against a huge variety of foes, and against those it is useful against, an 8-gp mundane item gives them a +10 bonus, which means you may as well not even bother.

  • Feint eliminates your chance to attack, and Improved Feint still eliminates your chance to full-attack. There is no reason—ever—to agree to those terms. A martial character needs to full-attack every turn. Especially one that cares about foes being flat-footed, since that is probably a rogue and therefore needs full-attack to actually use both of their weapons.

    Beguilers (Player’s Handbook II) and invisible blades (Complete Warrior) can get the ability to feint as a swift or free action (respectively), which could be good, but beguiler requires 6 levels in a spellcasting class without sneak attack, and you still have to take Improved Feint, and invisible blade requires 5 levels in a prestige class with brutal requirements.

  • Grapple is monstrously complicated, and at-best locks one foe down. It’s extremely difficult to do as a PC, since it relies so heavily on size. This one is better than the rest, though, because if you jump through the appropriate hoops, you can lock down one foe really well, and sometimes that’s a really big deal.

    Of course, the best “grapplers” are summoners, since they can lock down multiple foes, and also leave themselves free to do other things. Grappling is really strong for summoners, but they won’t be taking Improved Grapple, they’ll just summon things that have.

  • The only point of overrun is to try to charge someone behind an enemy. That means Improved Overrun is worthless, as now you have no chance of going through that enemy and guarantee you’ll be blocked. Without Improved Overrun, it’s up to them, but at least there’s a chance.

  • Sunder destroys your own loot, and most weapons worth sundering are way, way harder to destroy than the people carrying them. And again, same problem as disarm where a ton of foes don’t have weapons in the first place. Has niche use against a hydra, but unless you’re a dedicated hydra-killer, that isn’t worth a feat.

So even if Improved Trip didn’t exist, no one would use these. They’d just use charging or something else instead. None of them is worth using, and not because trip exists, but because they just aren’t worth using. Maybe grapple, particularly if you count grappling done by summoned monsters. But for the rest, the only people who ever use either are those who don’t understand their flaws, or those doing it as a self-imposed challenge.

Nerfing trip doesn’t solve any problems, it just adds another maneuver not worth using. For example, see Pathfinder, where they did nerf trip quite severely, and buffed e.g. sunder, and yet grapple and trip (and some new PF maneuvers like dirty trick) are still the only maneuvers worth using. That’s because fundamentally, trip is still a decent thing to do to an enemy (even if PF makes it cost so much more), while the others aren’t.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan That’s what I get for not double-checking the item. Will note. (Also, everyone ever should make 5 ranks in Balance a priority anyway, but...) \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 2, 2022 at 16:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ An Aside: It's deeply undignified, but the runup to nimble stand is the skill trick twisted crawl, which is enough against enemies without reach: use that trick to take a move action that doesn't provoke to crawl 5 ft. out of reach then stand. The requirement? Only 5 ranks in Tumble. Sigh. \$\endgroup\$ May 2, 2022 at 16:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ According to the Rules Compendium (p 94) standing up from prone with a DC 35 tumble check does provoke AoO... \$\endgroup\$
    – Peregrin
    May 3, 2022 at 7:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PeregrinTook So it does. I think that’s probably a case of Rules Compendium just accurately describing RAW, rather than a considered “oh this wasn’t really covered before, we need to make a design decision here,” but considering how prone Rules Compendium was to doing the latter when they wanted to, it’s hard to be sure about that. I’ll note the issue. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 3, 2022 at 14:22
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Tumble already provides a pre-epic, skill-only means for standing up without provoking an attack of opportunity. There are two possible methodologies, one which is going to be a little controversial, and the other which is pretty straightforward.

  1. Simply pass a DC 15 tumble check and stand up. Standing up is a move action. Tumble lets one move at half the normal amount -- half of 0 is 0 -- as part of normal movement. The crux here is the definition of "normal movement." Like many such terms in 3.5, it isn't really defined. In my opinion, "normal" here means "not extraordinary, spell-like, or supernatural." For example, one flying via the fly spell could not tumble.
  2. A second option, if the dm rules something like "one must actually move to use tumble," which imo is not a RAW requirement, then one would first need to tumble with a -10 penalty to utilize a 5' crawl with no movement penalty. Then, if that step moved one out of other creatures' threat ranges, one could convert their remaining standard action to a move action and simply stand up.

Note that tumble states:

Tumble at one-half speed as part of normal movement, provoking no attacks of opportunity while doing so. Failure means you provoke attacks of opportunity normally. Check separately for each opponent you move past, in the order in which you pass them (player’s choice of order in case of a tie). Each additional enemy after the first adds +2 to the Tumble DC.

There is no mention of what attacks of opportunity are removed. E.g. it does not state, "provoking no attacks of opportunity for leaving opponents' threatened squares" or any other such limiting language. As such, a successful tumble check would prevent all attacks of opportunity against a character while they were moving, including the one normally allowed due to crawling, since crawling is moving.

I believe that only (1) is required, though, but (2) still allows characters to get off the ground without provoking by expending basically their entire turn to do so.

Also note that the spells or epic feats involving standing up all provide the ability to stand more-quickly than as a movement action.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, but no: Tumble lets you “move” without provoking, but not every “move action” is you “moving.” You don’t “move” when you stand. It’s not at all clear that you “move” when you crawl, either. The existence of things like Nimble Stand and Tumbling Crawl strongly suggest the authors didn’t agree with you, either. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 3, 2022 at 14:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Crawling explicitly let's you move 5' as a movement action. I don't see how you cannot think that is a movement action, but think that falling is a movement when it is explicitly an environmental hazard per rpg.stackexchange.com/a/156215/33213 \$\endgroup\$ May 3, 2022 at 17:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ The problem is that there are two separate things that provoke: crawling, itself, and moving out of a threatened square. Even if you succeed on the Tumble check to eliminate the provoking from moving out of the threatened square, you’re still crawling and that still provokes. Creatures can’t take multiple AoOs for a single action (even with Combat Reflexes), so ordinarily the doubled provocation doesn’t matter, but it does if you Tumble. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 3, 2022 at 17:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan where are you reading that tumbling only removes the attack of opportunity for moving through a threatened square? Tumbling let's you move without provoking attacks of opportunity while doing so \$\endgroup\$ May 3, 2022 at 17:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is pointless. You know my answer to that question: that it lets you “move” without provoking, but not “crawl” without provoking. You disagree. I’m not convinced, and point to Nimble Stand as evidenced that Wizards of the Coast is on my side of this. You point out (presumably) how often they made mistakes, which is fair but then we are at an impasse. There’s nothing left to debate here, and I still think this answer is inaccurate so I will be leaving my downvote. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 3, 2022 at 17:48

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