I came across a situation in my current game where a PC was taking an attack of opportunity against another PC when they moved out of their threatened square. They decided to use a non-lethal attack to attack the PC moving out of the threatened square. In this case, would the PC moving out of the threatened square also get an attack of opportunity against the PC who is making an unarmed attack since be default that would cause an attack of opportunity?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is this first attack non-lethal or unarmed? Or both? Because you used both these descriptors in separate sentences, and they mean different things and have different rules. Also, Improved Unarmed Strike or Monk levels can affect things - are they in use here? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 14:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ It is a non-lethal unarmed attack, but could I get the ruling for both if they differ in this case? No monk levels or Unarmed Strike feat or anything like that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phorden
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 15:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ While Lucas' answer is correct for this example, I feel like there are other examples that are actually valid cases of this happening, especially using Combat Maneuvers. For example, if the AoO is a trip maneuver that provokes an AoO. \$\endgroup\$
    – MrLemon
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 15:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ And just a reminder - You can always deal nonlethal damage with a normal weapon, you'll just have to take -4 on the attack roll. And that wouldn't provoke another attack of opportunity. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 7:47

1 Answer 1


You can take an unarmed strike as your attack of opportunity even if you don't have Improved Unarmed Strike, but you first have to be threatening with a weapon. If you have a dagger in one hand and your opponent leaves the threatened square, you may take an attack of opportunity using any means available to you to make an attack. A dagger is enough to threaten the square, and the text for attacks of opportunity does not state that you need to attack with the weapon you were threatening with. You can be armed and still punch (or kick, elbow, knee, etc.).

Assuming that you already threatened the square and made a legal attack of opportunity, then that will provoke an Attack of Opportunity from the opponent if you lack Improved Unarmed Strike.

Likewise, if you had used your Attack of Opportunity to try and trip the opponent without Improved Trip, that would have the same effect.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you. While the first explanation was pretty good. This seems to be the most accurate I have seen so far. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phorden
    Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 15:02

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