In normal circumstances - that is, absent an ability, spell, or other condition that states otherwise - a character in Pathfinder provokes attacks of opportunity for casting a spell while threatened. Characters also, again in the absence of mitigating circumstances, provoke attacks of opportunity for making a ranged attack (the most common example is firing a bow) while threatened.

So, for the sake of argument, let us say we have a wizard who casts acid arrow while threatened by a fighter. The fighter, thanks to Combat Reflexes, has 3 attacks of opportunity per round. The wizard has cast a spell (1 provoke), then made a ranged attack while threatened (as part of the spell). Does the wizard provoke just one attack, or two?

Please note that I am not looking for methods to prevent this; rather, I wish to know how many attacks of opportunity the fighter is theoretically entitled to, and why. Answers adhering to the Pathfinder rules as written are firmly requested; again, I am not looking for a ruling, but rather clarification from the text.


2 Answers 2


The FAQ has an answer to your question!

When you cast a spell that allows you to make a ranged touch attack (such as scorching ray), and an enemy is within reach, do you provoke two attacks of opportunity?

Yes, you provoke two attacks of opportunity: one for casting the spell and one for making a ranged attack, since these are two separate events.
(Note that a spell that fires multiple simultaneous rays, such as scorching ray, only provokes one AOO for making the ranged attack instead of one AOO for each ranged attack. It still provokes for casting the spell.)

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I would never have guessed... \$\endgroup\$
    – Nigralbus
    Jan 21, 2015 at 9:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think a good addition to this answer would be to add this part: Making an Attack of Opportunity : An attack of opportunity is a single melee attack, and most characters can only make one per round. Unless the opponents have the Combat Reflexes feat, wich states:you can add your Dexterity bonus to the number of attacks of opportunity you can make. So it will most of the time only provoke one unless the caster moves in between (is it allowed I don't remember) and even this might provoke more AOO. \$\endgroup\$
    – Maxpire
    Mar 6, 2020 at 7:30

Yes, the wizard provokes for making a ranged attack, and for casting a spell. The details are as follow: Under the section on combat, under the casting a spell section, we get:

Ranged Touch Spells in Combat: Some spells allow you to make a ranged touch attack as part of the casting of the spell. These attacks are made as part of the spell and do not require a separate action. Ranged touch attacks provoke an attack of opportunity, even if the spell that causes the attacks was cast defensively. Unless otherwise noted, ranged touch attacks cannot be held until a later turn.

We also get:

Attacks of Opportunity: Generally, if you cast a spell, you provoke attacks of opportunity from threatening enemies. If you take damage from an attack of opportunity, you must make a concentration check (DC 10 + points of damage taken + the spell's level) or lose the spell. Spells that require only a free action to cast don't provoke attacks of opportunity.

It is because the actions of casting a spell and making a ranged attack are two distinct actions that both individually provoke, even though they normally happen nearly simultaneously.


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