The text for Total defense reads as.

Total Defense

You can defend yourself as a standard action. You get a +4 dodge bonus to your AC for 1 round. Your AC improves at the start of this action. You can't combine total defense with fighting defensively or with the benefit of the Combat Expertise feat. You can't make attacks of opportunity while using total defense.

Emphasis mine.

Is there any way to still use Attacks of Opportunity while using the total defense action?

The specific situation is a character with the Bodyguard feat wants to be able to use the total defense action to activate the Covering Defense feat and still use Bodyguard.


Unfortunately, you can't.

Bodyguard reads:

Benefit: When an adjacent ally is attacked, you may use an attack of opportunity to attempt the aid another action to improve your ally’s AC. You may not use the aid another action to improve your ally’s attack roll with this attack.

So, it would be "No, you can't", as Bodyguard need an especific kind of action to be performed (AoO) and the Total Defense Rules states that you can't use AoO's while in Total Defense.

The rationale behind this is that while you are in Total Defense, your only concern is protecting yourself. To "be a bodyguard" can be seen as protecting someone else, so you can't really be on "Total Defense". You can look at Fighting Defensively (Scroll down to it) as an alternative to this. It won't provide the +4 but it will provide a nice +2 on your AC that can be really helpful.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice answer and you provided an alternative solution. +1 \$\endgroup\$ – Aaron Apr 30 '14 at 16:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Additionally, note you also need to be in disposition to perform a melee attack in order to take the aid another action, and total defense does not allow you taking melee attacks. \$\endgroup\$ – Balacertar Sep 9 '16 at 16:35

Normally, I'd say no. Since a character can't do attacks of opportunity, the character also cannot use Bodyguard while doing Total Defense.

If your group is using Hero Points, I'd allow the character to spend a Hero Point while doing Total Defense to get his or her full range of attacks of opportunity for that round (and thus use Bodyguard and Covering Defense).

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