Question as simple as title yet very hard to answer. I'm specifically referring to things like:

  • Abrupt Jaunt variant wizard class feature,


  • Wings of Cover spell,

or any other similar effect.

Can player use one of those in response to attack that he/she either can't perceive or doesn't know where will land? For example:

  • Fireball (PC doesn't know where it hits until it hits, even if player does),
  • Ranged attack (PC doesn't know whether he is being targeted or his teammate right next to him, even if player does),
  • Sneak attack (PC doesn't know the attacker exist at all before being hit).

2 Answers 2


We just don’t know.

The rules for immediate actions (and other triggered actions, e.g. readied actions) just aren’t detailed enough to answer these questions. These are questions for your DM, not us.

Certainly, if you always have perfect awareness of opportunities to use immediate-action effects, that gets a bit god-mode (particularly with abrupt jaunt), but if you have no awareness, they quickly become useless, so a DM is going to have to find some middle ground. In practice, that’s almost certainly going to be an ad hoc “I know it when I see it” sort of situation, because foreseeing every possible scenario is impossible. Still, it can be possible to discuss and establish guidelines beforehand, so that a player has a reasonable ability to predict when they will and won’t be able to use such abilities.

But you won’t find such guidance anywhere in the rules.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not the player in this equation. I'm actually advising friend with his character build. My own point was that, while it makes sense to notice swing with a weapon in melee (unless it's a sneak attack), it's absolutely nonsensical to pull off a Barry Allen and notice missile hitting you in fraction of a second or area spell that is not obvious where is centered. And logically speaking the longer the distance, the lower the angle at which a slight shift results in massive change in hit location, so we're talking things impossible to notice, even to person specifically analyzing it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Aug 28, 2022 at 0:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ But since we couldn't find anything conclusive, I decided to ask here. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Aug 28, 2022 at 0:53
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @NecXelos Sure, it’s a reasonable question—it’s just not one that happens to have an official answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Aug 28, 2022 at 2:35
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ As far as I can see, the official guideline exists and consists of "not flat-footed? Good enough for an immediate action". \$\endgroup\$ Aug 29, 2022 at 22:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Re: noticing slight shifts in aim there already is an abstraction for active evasion - dex/dodge/etc bonuses to AC and reflex saves. If we agree that those make sense, using another kind of active defense does, too. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 29, 2022 at 22:24

Contrary to another answer, this seems to be reasonably straightforward.

I'm going off the top of my head, so please feel free to point me the errors of my ways.

Abrupt Jaunt is an immediate action. Immediate actions cannot be taken while flat-footed. If a character can not perceive an attack, he is considered flat-footed vs that attack. Hence, no immediate actions to get away!

In your examples:

  • Fireball is something you CAN evade via jaunt, because in general in combat you're considered aware of your surroundings and tactical situation. The usual exceptions apply: fireball in the surprise round, invisible caster, etc, etc. See also: reflex saving throw, representing the person actively trying to get away. If you get a reflex save, you are aware enough to have an option of taking an immediate action.
  • Ranged attack goes along the same line of reasoning and you CAN evade it. See also: dodge and dex bonuses to AC, representing the person actively trying to get out.
  • Sneak attack goes along the same line of reasoning and you CAN evade it: you know it's there, you're just too busy with something else to protect your vulnerable spot. Do note that a surprise attack would NOT be evadeable, but not every surprise attack is a sneak attack and vice versa.

Please note that this, while permissive, is still far from the god mode: you only get one immediate action per round, and have to jump through hoops to get more.

Link to the immediate action definition that mentions "no go if flat-footed": https://www.d20srd.org/srd/combat/actionsInCombat.htm#immediateActions (Any better links are welcome)

  • \$\begingroup\$ “If a character can not perceive an attack, he is considered flat-footed vs that attack,” [citation needed]. What does it even mean to perceive an attack? So far as I know, that’s not defined in the rules at all—the combat rules only concern themselves with whether or not you can perceive creatures. And when you do fail to perceive a creature, you’re denied your Dexterity bonus to AC, but you’re not flat-footed (unless you weren’t otherwise in combat at all). \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Aug 29, 2022 at 22:27
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Employing the benefit of the Deflect Arrows feat requires both perceiving the incoming attack and not being flat-footed, but it doesn't say how an attack is perceived mechanically. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 29, 2022 at 23:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Jeor Mattan you didn't explain how perceiving things is done mechanically. You didn't explain how (mechanically) the PC knows where enemy Fireball will land. You didn't explain how (mechanically) the PC knows that he is the target of an arrow and not his/her ally in next tile. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Aug 30, 2022 at 13:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Quick idea: are there maybe some Pathfinder 1.0 solutions to this issue? It's basically D&D 3.75 so maybe there is something there? \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Aug 30, 2022 at 14:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NecXelos Nope. Pathfinder never published an example of combat, and Wizards of the Coast went silent on them after a handful of 2002 Web columns (see also here). (The Miniatures Handbook (the original source of immediate actions) is 2003.) \$\endgroup\$ Aug 30, 2022 at 21:51

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