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One of the design features of Pathfinder Second Edition is to only have a select few creatures, both PCs and foes, having the ability to make an Attack of Opportunity. For PCs, only Fighters get it straight away (although other martial classes can get it or similar feats later in their class progression), and I've seen people say that only approximately 30% of the bestiary has it.

I hope this distinction between creatures that can do this and creatures that can't might be understandable by someone in-universe - so I'm looking for an intuitive heuristic that my character can apply to judge when a creature might or might not have this ability. It doesn't need to be correct every time, but when it doesn't work it should ideally be because of a subversion that then makes retroactive sense.

For instance, perhaps the heuristic might be "Only people very skilled with weapons/martial combat are quick enough to react in this way", and a subversion of this rule might be "This monster isn't using any weapons, but I see now that I took an opportunity attack because its reflexes are lightning fast".

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Dedicated Martial Combatants

There's quite a bit written about this under the Gamemastery Guide section on building creatures, with specific recommendations to include Attack of Opportunity on creatures that should be considered "soldiers", fighters, or some level 6+ barbarians/champions.

The section there on reactive abilities has a lot to say on the idea of what creatures should have reactions like Attack of Opportunity, including:

To decide whether your creature should have a reaction, first consider if the creature has the reflexes or insight to react well in the first place—for instance, an ogre doesn’t have Attack of Opportunity because it’s a big oaf. Oozes, constructs, and unintelligent creatures are less likely to have reactions than others for this reason.

So extrapolating this information to in-universe signs to look for you'd get:

  • Strong reflexes/insight
  • Intelligent
  • Militaristic, or otherwise martially skilled/trained
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    \$\begingroup\$ There are also creatures that do not have martial training that have AoO... typically things with tentacles or similar appendages. I would add a second category that would be "A creature whose limb is designed to reach out and and grab me" or something similar. Example: 2e.aonprd.com/Monsters.aspx?ID=353 (although it's not AoO but similar) \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Jul 10, 2022 at 4:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso Actually looking through all creatures with tentacles only 11/45 have something similar to AoO, less than the supposed 30% average. \$\endgroup\$
    – brandon
    Jul 10, 2022 at 14:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ But significantly more than the number of them that are "Dedicated Martial Combatants" that are "insightful, intelligent, or militaristic" \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Jul 15, 2022 at 0:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd be interested if you ran the numbers on that claim, though these are far more nebulous qualities than 'tentacles or similar' \$\endgroup\$
    – brandon
    Jul 15, 2022 at 1:23

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