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Tail Spin is a Goblin feat:

Attempt a single Athletics check to Trip up to two adjacent creatures.

Trip has the Attack trait, so it increases the MAP. However, it says you make a single check, does it mean you only increase your MAP by one level?

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2 Answers 2

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It increases it once.

Multi-attack abilities tend to specify.

The second time you use an attack action during your turn, you take a –5 penalty to your check. The third time you attack, and on any subsequent attacks, you take a –10 penalty to your check. Every check that has the attack trait counts toward your multiple attack penalty, including Strikes, spell attack rolls, certain skill actions like Shove, and many others.

Tail Spin is a two-action ability that allows you to make a single check, with an attack trait, that affects two enemies. Many abilities that allow you to target multiple creatures (or one creature multiple times) include a rider along the lines of "this increases your MAP X times, but not until you're done with this ability," such as Slashing Gust, Double Slice, Drifter's Wake, or Whirlwind Strike, quoting the last:

[...] Make a melee Strike against each enemy within your melee reach. Each attack counts toward your multiple attack penalty, but do not increase your penalty until you have made all your attacks.

These abilities let you make multiple attacks and increase your MAP accordingly (albeit typically after the ability has concluded).

Tail Spin is one attack.

The main distinction between Tail Spin and those abilities is how many checks you're making: in all of those abilities, you are explicitly making 2+ attacks with separate rolls. With Tail Spin, you're making one attack that targets multiple creatures:

You excel at using your tail as a weapon to upend your foes. Attempt a single Athletics check to Trip up to two adjacent creatures. If you roll a success against a target, you get a critical success against that target instead.

For a counter-example, take Piston Punch:

[...] Make a single bludgeoning or piercing dynamo Strike and compare the attack roll result to the ACs of up to two foes. [...] Roll damage only once and apply it to each creature you hit. A Piston Punch counts as two attacks for your multiple attack penalty. [...]

Like Tail Spin, Piston Punch is explicitly a single attack roll applied to two targets. Unlike Tail Spin, Piston Punch says it's explicitly counted as two attacks for MAP. While the result of Tail Spin's check is applied to multiple targets, you are ultimately making one "check with the attack trait," so it only increases MAP once.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @brandon Good call. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shivers
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 5:36
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It increases MAP by one level

MAP says:

The more attacks you make beyond your first in a single turn, the less accurate you become, represented by the multiple attack penalty. The second time you use an attack action during your turn, you take a –5 penalty to your check.

Tail Spin is not an attack action, it is an activity that costs two actions.

Activities usually take longer and require using multiple actions, which must be spent in succession

So you spent two Trip actions in succession to execute a tail spin activity. Each of them has the Attack property, so these are two uses of attack actions in succession, that share a single Athletics check. Because you use an attack action a second time, you incur the MAP one time, for the second Trip. If you made yet another attack with your third action, that one would have the -10 penalty for your third attack.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Your title is misleading compared to your conclusion. Increasing MAP by one level would ordinarily mean your next attack is -5, but you conclude their third action would be -10. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 14, 2023 at 22:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's worth noting that there is no "actions in an activity are individual attack actions" equivalency that I'm aware of, so I would need a better rules quote than I see here to support this answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 14, 2023 at 22:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Usually activities that affect MAP say something like "these add to your MAP as normal, but don't apply any negatives until the activity is complete." Is there a similar line in Tail Spin? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 0:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jason_c_o There is no such line for tail spin. I can see the circumstantial evidence from other abilities calling out this effect explicitly, but I’m not sure absence of such text means that this should not apply. Likewise, that every check made contributes to MAP does not say that every subsequent attack is not sufficient. There is just no explicit rule saying that you need both a separate check and an attack for it to increase, even if that may be intended. It may be that this is too literal a reading of the text? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 3:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ "you spent two Trip actions in succession to execute a tail spin activity." This is not true. You spent two actions on the activity, this does not make them actual trip actions. The activity that you spend two actions on then included a Trip attrmpt \$\endgroup\$
    – Patta
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 8:08

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