I am currently assisting in the DMing of the game as far as understanding rules. In the last game session we played I experienced a AoO for the first time as did the actual DM.

A PC(1) was engaged in combat with an enemy another PC(2) standing next to him moved away from that fight. Does that provoke an attack of opportunity from the enemy? Also, I understand an AoO to be a free attack, so does that mean it doesn't have to roll hit?

Finally, in the aforementioned situation if an enemy is engaged with PC(1) and PC(2) attacks the enemy, does the enemy shift target to PC(2) and does the PC(2) take any negatives for attacking the enemy via melee like a ranged attack would?


2 Answers 2


I'll start by covering the second question, since it is the simpler one to answer. In D&D 3.5 there is no concept of "targeting" or facing in the sense that you are describing. If an enemy is in combat with PC 1 and PC 2 it can be assumed that the enemy is putting forth equal effort towards fighting each. As for taking penalties to melee attacks, no you do not. In fact, based on the positions of the PCs they may get a bonus from flanking.

Now on the topic of your first question, attacks of opportunity are most commonly caused by one of two things, either moving out of a threatened space or performing a distracting act while in a threatened square. Let me define these, as stated on the SRD

Threatened Squares: You threaten all squares into which you can make a melee attack, even when it is not your action. Generally, that means everything in all squares adjacent to your space (including diagonally). An enemy that takes certain actions while in a threatened square provokes an attack of opportunity from you. If you’re unarmed, you don’t normally threaten any squares and thus can’t make attacks of opportunity.

Moving: Moving out of a threatened square usually provokes an attack of opportunity from the threatening opponent. There are two common methods of avoiding such an attack—the 5-foot step and the withdraw action.

Performing a Distracting Act Some actions, when performed in a threatened square, provoke attacks of opportunity as you divert your attention from the battle. Actions in Combat notes many of the actions that provoke attacks of opportunity.

so in the situation that you described above, being a PC moved away from an enemy, that would provoke an attack of opportunity assuming the following:

  1. The PC started in a square the enemy threatened
  2. The enemy had a weapon to attack with, which can include a natural weapon
  3. The PC didn't do something to avoid the attack, such as a 5-foot-step, tumble check, or full withdraw action.

As for the attack being defined as free, that does not mean it automatically hits. The attack must still be rolled, applying all applicable modifiers, and any character/monster may only make a single attack of opportunity per turn. So free really means outside of the typical action economy of one standard and one move action per turn.

I hope I answered everything clearly for you, feel free to comment if you want me to explain anything in more detail. In addition I would highly recommend reading the SRD, which I linked above, to learn more about Attacks of Opportunity.

  • \$\begingroup\$ thank you that was very well explained and has helped me understand the situation much better. i appreciate the input i have only one last question in reference to your explanation would the enemy attacking pc2 create an AoO from pc1 or does that fit in with your explaination of targeting and putting in equal effort? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 5:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for accepting my answer, but I would suggest not being so quick to jump on the accept button. By doing so you may be discouraging others from giving their input on the question. No, PC1 would not get an attack of opportunity because attacking is not considered a distracting act. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 5:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ d20srd.org/srd/combat/actionsInCombat.htm may be useful to help you determine if an action provokes an attack of opportunity. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 5:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ And welcome to rpg.stackexchange btw \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 5:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ again thanks for the quick response and the advice on using the site. im glad i found this siteim sure it will come in very handy as we continue to progress. also i appreciate the links very helpful \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 5:12

This is a pretty friendly break-down for Attacks of Oppurtunity.

You can only make ONE AoO per round. ( Unless you have the Combat Reflexes Feat, then you have additional AOO chances based on Dex Modifier )

Aside from that, AoOs can be provoked by moving out of someone's 'threatened' area, which is all the squares immediately surrounding them.


Moving out of a threatened square usually provokes an attack of opportunity from >the threatening opponent. There are two common methods of avoiding such an >attack—the 5-foot-step and the Withdraw action (see Table: Actions in Combat).

Multiple opponents engaging one target do not provoke AoOs for engaging. But a second PC could gain a flanking bonus to their attack for engaging a target from the side opposite of you.

Does that help?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Aw, Ryan beat me to it, haha. Damn tablets! shakes fist \$\endgroup\$
    – Squish
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 4:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ i appreciate your answer very much and while yes that does explain some to me ryans answer was much more concise to what i needed to know \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 5:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yea, my apologies, typing it out on the tablet was frustrating me so I tried to make it concise. xD \$\endgroup\$
    – Squish
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 5:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ lol i can understand that i work with tablets all day very mind numbing \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 5:13

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