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Odd question...

Since with Improved Trip,

If you trip an opponent in melee combat, you immediately get a melee attack against that opponent as if you hadn’t used your attack for the trip attempt.

and with Knock-Down

Whenever you deal 10 or more points of damage to your opponent in melee, you make a trip attack as a free action against the same target.

Would that mean for every attack in a round (iterative, 2-weapon, natural, attack of opportunity) you have the potential for one melee attack and if successful and doing more than 10 points of damage, would gain a free trip attempt against that target, and if successful, another free attack against that same opponent? (Provided he's not dead yet.)

Just to be clear, the question is not what happens after the three attack actions or whether you can trip a tripped opponent, just seemed a bit odd to me that a 2nd lvl fighter or 3rd lvl rogue could be potentially having 2 for one attacks + trip for every conceivable attack they can make. Those divine feats fall off my radar sometimes.

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Yes, But with Some Restrictions

The feat Improved Trip (PH 96) says that

You do not provoke an attack of opportunity when you attempt to trip an opponent while you are unarmed. You also gain a +4 bonus on your Strength check to trip your opponent.

If you trip an opponent in melee combat, you immediately get a melee attack against that opponent as if you hadn't used your attack for the trip attempt.

The feat Knock-down (DD 51) says that

Whenever you deal 10 or more points of damage to your opponent in melee, you make a trip attack as a free action against the same target.

Further, to make an armed trip attempt (as opposed to the unarmed one that with the feat Improved Trip no longer provokes an attack of opportunity anyway), a creature must make the attempt with the lone simple trip-capable weapon--the sickle--or one of the following martial weapons: guisarme, halberd, heavy flail, light flail, or scythe. Alternately, the creature must make the attempt with one the following exotic weapons: dire flail, gnome hooked hammer, kama, spiked chain, or whip. Texts after the Player's Handbook expand this list, but that's a short, largely unpleasant list--with one glaring exception--if playing only core.

For example, a human Ftr2 who picked as his feats Combat Expertise (PH 92), Exotic Weapon Proficiency (spiked chain) (PH 94), Improved Trip, and Knock-down could on his turn make a melee attack against a creature, and, if he hits and deals at least 10 points of damage to the creature, he can make a trip attempt as a free action. Success renders the creature prone and the fighter can make a melee attack against the creature with the weapon used. Failure, however, means the creature gets to attempt to trip the fighter.

This Ftr2, when wielding a spiked chain, deals 2d4+3 points of damage. It will be a few levels before the fighter alone can consistently makes the free-action trip attempts using the benefit of the feat Knock-down.

For example, similarly, a human Rog3 who picked as his feats Combat Expertise (PH 92), Improved Trip, and Knock-down--unless he wishes to provoke attacks of opportunity--is probably using the sickle, as that's the only weapon with which he's proficient and that's capable of making trip attempts. Although the rogue has a Strength score of 15 to meet the prerequisites of the feat Knock-down, he can't even increase his sickle's damage by using it two-handed ("Using two hands to wield a light weapon gives no advantage on damage"). Unless circumstances increase the Rog3's damage (e.g. the rogue is in a position to deal his sneak attack damage), the Rog3 deals but 1d6+2 points of damage, never enough by itself to gain the benefits of the feat Knock-down.

The Attacks of Opportunity Issue

A major reason to take the feats Knock-down and Improved Trip is to make attacks of opportunity that can trip advancing foes. While trip attempts can be made normally as attacks of opportunity (and, if successful, permit the subsequent melee attack granted by the feat Improved Trip), the trip attack granted by the feat Knock-down unfortunately takes a free action to perform, which limits using the benefit of the Knock-down feat to the creature's turn.

While the Player's Handbook is a little vague on the topic of off-turn free actions,1 the Rules Compendium makes things clear: "You can perform one or more free actions during your turn" (7). The feat Knock-down--like the feat Quick Draw (PH 98) and Step 3: Hold of a grapple check (the free action was added to the grapple process in Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 and absent in Dungeons and Dragons, 3rd Edition)--provides no specific avenue for escaping this general limit.

Standing from Prone

Keep in mind that when the feat Knock-down was published and republished, standing up from prone in Dungeons and Dragons, 3rd Edition did not provoke attacks of opportunity. Tripping a creature made it light on fire a move action while everybody watched it get to its feet, so even if free actions were allowed off-turn the feat Knock-down wouldn't have come into play.

In Dungeons and Dragons 3.5, stand up from prone became--I assume, hastily, and, to speculate, maybe even accidentally--a move action that provokes attacks of opportunity. This is problematic as an "attack of opportunity 'interrupts' the normal flow of actions in the round" (PH 137), and at what point the attacker interrupts the stand up from prone action is unclear: before the action when the creature's still floundering to stand or after the action's completion when the creature's dusting himself off after having stood? I gravitate toward the latter idea that a creature stands then creatures that are able to take attacks of opportunity against it, assuming that until the creature's not prone anymore it's prone, and the action is called stand up from prone. But ask the DM. It's important information for a tripper.

The Knock-down Feat Story

The version of the feat Knock-down in Sword and Fist (2001) has, among others, this errata:

Use of this feat cannot be combined with Improved Trip to generate an extra attack, and successful use of this feat does not grant an extra attack through the Cleave or Great Cleave feats.

Then the feat was republished in Deities and Demigods (2002) and the benefits changed to

Whenever the deity deals 10 or more points of damage to its opponent in melee, it makes a trip attack as a free action against the same target.

As the the Wizards of the Coast policy is that the latest version of the feat takes precedence, the feat became all but impossible to use (but not to take--the prerequisites remained unchanged) as it required either the creature have divine rank or be of indeterminate gender and named the deity. (Sort of like e e cummings or k. d. lang but moreso.2)

The feat hasn't been reprinted since Deities and Demigods, but it was included--without commentary, explanation, errata, or mandatory godhood--in the Divine Abilities and Feats section of the SRD, which is the only location the feat--as described in the question--is available. Nor is the SRD listed as the feat's source on the Consolidated Lists' Feats Index (last updated 12/18/07), listing but Sword and Fist and Deities and Demigods, making even knowing the feat exists in its current form a small victory.

There are Dragon magazine and official Wizards of the Coast Web articles that are less obscure than that version of that feat.


  1. So it's clear, the Player's Handbook says, "You can perform one or more free actions while taking another action normally" (PH 139), but an attack of opportunity isn't an action, merely a free attack, unlisted as an action of any type on Table 8-2: Actions in Combat (PH 141). (Conflict between this sentence and the ability of creature to take free actions during swift actions and immediate actions is inevitable and remains unresolved.) The Rules Compendium clarifies further: "Making an attack of opportunity isn't considered an action" (RC 18). But, O, how I wish the Rules Compendium's loquacious author had omitted that word considered.

    Further, the Player's Handbook says, "Free actions don’t take any time at all, though there may be limits to the number of free actions you can perform in a turn" (PH 144). Accordingly, one can argue either there are no limits to the number of free actions you can perform when it's not your turn or you can't perform free actions when it's not your turn.

    Luckily, there's the Rules Compendium to solve this problem once and for all.

  2. A favorite character naming convention and totally not my idea: Naming a character a madness then afflicting somebody so much he's driven to suicide, creating an allip (MM 10).

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ruut No, my bad. That sounded abrupt and adversarial rather than sincere, and I should've phrased it better. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 17 '14 at 5:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ruut I think what Wyrmwood wants to do is 1) have the Ftr3 hit and deal at least 10 points of damage with his greatsword to use the Knock-down feat's benefit then 2) make the free trip attack unarmed then 3) if the trip attack's successful make the attack from the feat Improved Trip using the greatsword. I think, in step 3, the Ftr3 would must, given the wording of the feat Improved Trip, make an unarmed strike. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 17 '14 at 7:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's probably a reasonable DM ruling to require it be from the same weapon, but I don't see it in the descriptions. The descriptions say "free attack" and "melee attack". They do specify the "same target". \$\endgroup\$ – Wyrmwood Nov 17 '14 at 17:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BenBarden (This answer has more on how this stuff can be officiated.) I think the latter case—using S&F plus its errata—is the "purest" way to run the feat, but it does leave bereft the poor dude who thought he was gonna use it in conjunction with the feat Improved Trip. (That result, by the way, is totally okay with this DM, who finds tripping—both by NPCs and PCs—one of the game's most annoying tactics.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 5 at 20:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ The RAW? If, as per the FAQ, the DM counts the last release of a feat — rather than actual physical publication — the "official" feat, the SRD is it. If, as per general errata, the DM counts Sword and Fist as the primary source for the Knock-down feat, then it's that one… plus its accompanying errata that bars the feat from being used in conjunction with the feat Improved Trip. [Previous similar comment removed and updated by this one. Sorry!] \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 5 at 20:20
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First,

The basic interaction between Knock-Down and Improved Trip.

  • Knock-Down allows a character to make a free trip attempt against a target that has been damaged in melee.
  • Improved Trip allows a character to make a free attack against an opponent that has been successfully tripped.

These feats interact nicely, meaning that when a character with Knock-Down and Improved Trip hits a target for 10 damage, they get a free trip attempt, which, if successful, grants another free attack (for a grand total of three "actions", including the trip).

If this seems powerful - yes, it is pretty good. But consider that it costs three precious feats, doesn't work well against all opponents (particularly late-game opponents) and isn't a unique power outlier.

Second, let's check out...

Multiple Attacks

How this is resolved is mostly a question of whether we allow a character to trip a target that is already prone.

If we can't trip a prone target, the results of subsequent attacks depend on the outcome of the previous attack(s). If the target is not prone before the attack, it is resolved as the first. If the target is prone before the attack, Knock-Down does not apply, and all we get is one, normal attack. In effect, we smash at the target until it falls, smash it once for free, and continue the beatdown with old-fashioned attacks until we run out.

If we can trip a prone target, we loop through free trip attempts (from KD) and free attacks (from IT) until we fail to trip or damage the target. Do this on every iterative.

Personally, I think allowing prone targets to be tripped is counter-intuitive and tedious. As a DM, I never allow it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Could this not go into an endless loop of attack-trip-attack-trip...? (assuming REALLY good rolls) \$\endgroup\$ – David Wilkins Nov 15 '14 at 12:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd call it an unlimited loop, but yes, that is a consequence of allowing a prone target to be tripped. \$\endgroup\$ – Ernir Nov 15 '14 at 15:04
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Yes, it may yield 3+ actions per attack.

With your Knock-Down feat, anytime you deal 10 points of damage to a target in a melee attack, you get to make a free trip attack against that target. With the Improved Trip feat, you get to immediately make a free melee attack against that opponent you just tripped.

Without the Knockdown feat, in order to trip, you make a touch attack against the target, then perform your trip roll. Some DM's may rule that you cause no damage with that touch attack (as I do; however, I do allow falling damage since they do hit the ground against their will).

During an attack of opportunity, that is not on your turn, by it's feat description, you should be allowed to perform a free trip attack if you successfully deal 10 points of damage on your attack of opportunity - possibly nullifying your opponents action. As a DM, I would allow this, simply because there are other feats that have that same philosophy, such as Close-Quarters Fighting (it can interrupt a grapple made towards you). Once again, you should be allowed to get your free melee attack against that successfully tripped opponent; some DM's may rule that is doing too much or going to far.

Speak with your DM to iron out all the details before you start piling on the feats for a trip build. Hell hath no fury like a DM scorned. Pulling zingers on your DM will ruin the fun for the rest of your party, and will get DMG's thrown at you.

Iterative Attacks

With iterative attacks, assuming you have BAB +15, your three melee attacks have the potential to provide you with a free trip attack, and the free melee attack with a successful trip.

These iterative attacks must be done with a trip weapon, or with unarmed strikes. Since there is nothing in Improved Trip's description stating otherwise; on your free attack after a successful trip, you should be able to make a melee attack as you desire. Your DM may rule it must be made with the weapon used to perform the trip.

Two-Weapon Fighting

As with iterative attacks, you have the potential with as many off-hand attacks to get a free trip attack, and the free melee attack with a successful trip. Keep in mind, some DM's may utilize the off-hand strength "penalty" for your opposed strength check with those off-hand trip attacks.

Ensure your off-hand weapon is either a tripping weapon, or an unarmed strike.

Natural Weapons

The only drawback, unless otherwise stated with certain feats, such as Rapidstrike, you can only make one attack per natural weapon in a round. Hence the entry for a wolf, one bite attack = one trip attack. Also note that if you have natural weapons, and a manufactured weapon, you can't make a natural attack with the same body part as the one holding the weapon, unless you are a monk using unarmed strikes. The natural attack, would be secondary attacks, and use the standard -5 penalty (-2 with Multiattack/-0 with Improved Multiattack).

This penalty applies even when the creature makes a single attack with the secondary weapon as part of the attack action or as an attack of opportunity.

Most natural weapons should count unarmed strikes for the purpose of trip attacks. A tentacle could wrap around a leg and pull a person off their feet. A claw can just as easily as a hand hook into someone and pull them off their feet. A bite, as in the case of the wolf, can drag a person off their feet. Speak with your DM ahead of time before trying to argue why your wing buffet should be allowed to trip someone.

Of course, with the knock-down feat, you aren't actually tripping them, you are doing so much damage in the right area, they are literally getting knocked down.

Attacks of Opportunity

Since a trip, is an attack, your attacks of opportunity can be made as trip attacks. For example, if you have a reach weapon or the Hold the Line feat, and an opponent charges you, you can trip him - possibly ending his charge before he gets a chance to hit you. Remember, attacks of opportunity happens before the action that provided the opportunity.

If you have the ability to make more than one attack of opportunity, such as Combat Reflexes, then you can possibly trip melee opponents with those attacks of opportunity, and also getting your free melee attack from a successful trip.

Is it Cheese?

Yes and no. If it is truly a problem for your encounters, start making the enemies larger and stronger. Also, lots of things can't be tripped or have a hard time being tripped. An angry centaur - gets a bonus for being large, and gets a bonus for having more than two legs. Oozes can't be tripped. Beholders... 'nuff said.


Remember this concerning what was stated above:

You Cannot Trip a Prone Target

All About Trip Attacks (Part Two)

It's possible to attempt a trip attack as an attack of opportunity. Fortunately, you can't be tripped while getting up from prone, at least not through the attack of opportunity you provoke. That because attacks of opportunity are resolved before the actions that provoke them (there are a few exceptions, see Rules of the Game: All About Attacks of Opportunity for details). When you try to stand up from a prone position, the attack of opportunity comes before you get back on your feet. Since you're still prone when the attack comes, the attack of opportunity can't trip you.


Trip

A tripped character is prone. Standing up is a move action.

Prone

The character is on the ground. Standing up is a move-equivalent action that provokes an attack of opportunity.

Attack of Opportunity

If an attack of opportunity is provoked, immediately resolve the attack of opportunity, then continue with the next character’s turn (or complete the current turn, if the attack of opportunity was provoked in the midst of a character’s turn).

Discussion

A tripped character is prone. A prone character is on the ground, that needs to stand up. It provokes an attack of opportunity, unless you have feats, skill tricks, spells, or magic items that say otherwise. Since an attack of opportunity happens before the prone character stands up, he can't be tripped (caused prone) because he is still prone.

This was clarified in the Rules of the Game section, that is now archived on WotC website.

FAQ

Being tripped makes you prone. Who can be tripped? Beholders? Gelatinous cubes? What effect does tripping have on these creatures? Can a prone character be tripped again? What about flying and swimming creatures? Many creatures have neither legs nor any relationship to the ground or gravity. How does tripping affect them?

Anything using limbs for locomotion can be tripped. Things that don’t need limbs for locomotion can’t be tripped. You can’t trip a snake, a beholder, or a gelatinous cube. You won’t find this in the rules, but then it really doesn’t need to be in there—the rules can leave some things to the DM’s common sense.

A creature flying with wings can be “tripped,” in which case the creature stalls (see Tactical Aerial Movement on page 20 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide). You can’t make an incorporeal creature fall down. You also can’t trip a prone creature.

Creatures can’t be tripped when they’re swimming (the water holds them up). Likewise, a burrowing creature is driving its body through a fairly solid medium that serves to hold it up.

Are FAQ's Rules?

If you have a question about the D&D game rules, you might find them within this FAQ. Any new additions or major corrections in a version are provided in red text for your convenience. Red text changes to black text in the next version. This version of the D&D FAQ uses the 3.5 revision of the core rules and also contains questions covering material from a variety of books (such as Savage Species and Epic Level Handbook). If you haven’t yet adopted the revision, don’t worry—in the rare instance that the answer is different between 3rd edition and the 3.5 revision, we’ll bring it to your attention with a call out that says “Revision Alert.”

Are they factual rules? WotC seem to think so.

Sources

  1. All About Trip Attacks (Part Two)
  2. SRD
  3. D&D FAQ 3/14/08 Page 68
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    \$\begingroup\$ Do not argue in comments. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Nov 16 '14 at 1:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah, man, I missed it :p \$\endgroup\$ – Wyrmwood Nov 16 '14 at 2:57
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Yes, you receive a free trip attempt. Even against a prone target.

The trip special attack and the prone condition are worded poorly.

By the current rules, nothing in the prone or trip descriptions prevents from trying to trip an opponent who is already prone.

Therefore, with the Knock-down feat and the multiple attacks you indeed gain a free-action trip attempt after each attack that dealt more than 10 points of damage, including the attacks made agains an already-tripped opponent.

The resolution of a trip attack against a prone target does not differ with the usual resolution, as the penalties of the prone condition do not affect the Str check to resist being tripped.

The prone conditions do not stack, that is, a tripped creature who was already prone remains prone, and the penalties only apply once, being from the same source.

On a successful trip attempt (that is, the opposite check result equal or greater that of a defender), a character with an Improved Trip feat receives an additional melee attack against the same target.

To sum up, in your situation your interpretation is correct: for every attack in a round (be it AoO, iterative, natural or whichever), you have not only the attack itself, but also the potential for an additional trip attempt (provided that the attack landed and dealt more than 10 damage) and a follow-up melee attack agains the same opponent (provided that the trip attempt was successful).

A rain at the party

Unfortunately, this could lead to a loop, when the bonus melee attack after a successful trip attempt deals more than 10 damage and opens up another round of bonus attacks. While only increasing the damage output proportionally to chances succeeding at multiple rolls, multiplied, this situation grows closer to the infinite loop the closer character is to acing the rolls mentioned automatically, and is a problem.

A handy umbrella

To fix it, I propose to apply a common-sense correction to the trip rules and disallow making trip attacks against the prone opponents.

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No, it does not.

I don't get how everyone missed the ruling here. Improved Trip states quite clearly that "If you trip an opponent in melee combat, you immediately get a melee attack against that opponent as if you hadn't used your attack for the trip attempt." It has been worded specifically to state that you do NOT gain a free attack, but that you do not use up your owns attack while tripping. That means that when Knock Down gives you "a trip attack as a free action against the same target", you do not get an additional attack, because improved trip gives you back an attack that you used for the trip attempt. But you did not use an attack for the trip attempt, it was directly a trip attempt.

To clarify: Trip attempts are an specific special attack that can be used instead of a regular attack. Improved trip allows you to get back a regular attack that was used to execute that specific special attack, which could be used again to execute a different special attack(like disarm or even trip, though you cannot trip a prone character), as if you never had used the regular attack in the first place, and only against the same target. Knocked down does not give you a regular attack, it gives you a Trip attempt. Improved Trip cannot give you back a regular attack "as if you hadn't used your attack for the trip attempt", because it never was a regular attack to begin with.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site. Take the tour. I think you raise an excellent point here, and one that's previously gone unaddressed. Your reading eliminates a lot of confusion, but does put more weight on as if you hadn't used your attack for the trip attempt rather than on If you trip an opponent in melee combat, you immediately get a melee attack against that opponent. The phrase as if is always a troublemaker in such situations. That said, I'm happy to +1 this if a more neutral tone is adopted. (It's good to see things others don't.) Thank you for contributing and for helping strangers. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 20 '15 at 1:44

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