I can't find any rules that explicitly state at what range you can perform some combat maneuvers.

Most combat maneuvers are clear: Overrun is about moving through an opponent's square(s); Steal uses your natural reach (or a whip's reach); Disarm, Sunder and Trip are performed in place of a melee attack, so I assume they have that attack's range.

Reposition is a bit fuzzy, in that it mentions your reach, though it doesn't clarify if you count your weapon's reach.

But Bull Rush, Dirty Trick, Drag and Grapple don't mention anything about range. Can I Bull Rush someone from 30' away? What about 10' with a reach weapon? Grapple says you move your opponent adjacent to you, so can happen beyond 5', but under what circumstances? Drag talks about moving back 5' and having your opponent move into your square – so can I not use the hook on my pole arm to drag someone?

This question came about from my considering a Foehammer archetype build using a Dwarven Longhammer.

  • Can I Bull Rush adjacent enemies back 5' so they are threatened by my hammer? Can I do this while unarmed at that range?
  • Can I Bull Rush from 10' away? You'd think a pole arm should be able to fend someone off, so maybe…

While I'd like specific answers to these questions, it'd be nice to have the basis for them clarified, too.


2 Answers 2


First of all: your reach is your weapon's reach. Different attack forms may have different reaches but the 'reach' listed for each creature size is just the default and is used for most creatures and most attacks. Wielding reach weapons is kinda like sprouting tentacles in that way; both of them give you reach longer than the 'normal' amount. You threaten area with each of your attack options individually. Everything else about Reposition is pretty clear, I think, so that one doesn't really need further clarifying.

For the rest of them:

This FAQ post clarifies the issues here, which are really reach related. Pathfinder does not do a good job of defining several fundamental game terms in-text, of which reach is one. 'Reach' doesn't just affect where you can attack from, it affects you ability to to just about anything at range. Abilities, like spells, that specify their own ranges overrule this because specific>general but in general you can only affect things within your reach.

Now, onto further detailed discussion of the consequences for each:

Bull Rush

  • from 30ft away?

As a standard action? Only if you can reach them. This will generally involve either being Colossal or being at least Huge and wielding a reach weapon. However, you can Bull Rush as part of a charge, so as long as your speed is at least 15 ft this is still doable as part of a full-round action.

  • 10ft reach weapon

Absolutely, and you do it via reach granted by the weapon so "keeping them at bay"/"pushing them back" is a totally valid way of describing that in the game world. Your character concept is solid here RAW.

  • "Can I Bull Rush adjacent enemies back 5' so they are threatened by my hammer? Can I do this while unarmed at that range?"

Your unarmed strikes are an attack form you possess, which tracks reach separately from your weapon as discussed above. You can't bull rush an area you can't reach, but you can generally reach the area next to you (even while armed with a reach weapon). You will be doing this with your body, not your weapon, though, and may incur AoO/nonproficiency penalties as a result. You may instead be able to do this using your haft as an improvised quarterstaff given the poor reception of my answer here, which would negate any reach-weapon related issues you have at that range.

Dirty Trick

This one's special. It specifies both that it "covers any sort of situational attack that imposes a penalty on a foe for a short period of time" and "The GM is the arbiter of what can be accomplished with this maneuver" which seem to be indicating that this manuever would be getting a lot more free reign RAW in terms of what it can do. However, the text does specify that Dirty Trick can only be used "in melee", so I think this is still limited to reach in terms of range.


  • so can I not use the hook on my pole arm to drag someone?

Drag just doesn't work RAW. It's not that you can't drag people via a reach weapon (you certainly can, according to the rules) nor that you can't drag people of a different size than you (which is even included in the 'tactics' section of some creatures), its just that the rules make no sense if you do anything but drag an adjacent Medium or Small sized creature and don't think too hard about the Pathfinder definition of a straight line. By "make no sense" I don't mean that the rules are confusing or that they don't correspond to some particular assertion of what physics are like 'in real life', I mean that they seem contradictory. You, apparently, both move the opponent 5 ft and cause them to occupy your former space, which in any case but the specific two cases in which this works, leads to your opponent being in two places at the same time and possibly you as well, while simultaneously not being in either place. I suppose you could run this like some kind of macroscopic quantum superposition effect, but I think it's much more reasonable to just accept that the designers messed up and come up with your own rules for dragging. You should definitely be able to do it with a pole-arm, just ignore the bit of text about moving into someone's space and the rules work much better (though the 'line' thing is still an issue).


  • under what circumstances can you do this from more than 5' away?

Whenever you have more than 5' of reach. Pretty simple, this one.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not entirely convinced that your weapon's reach is your reach. Steal implies this: "Although this maneuver can only be performed if the target is within your reach, you can use a whip to steal an object from a target within range with a –4 penalty on the attack roll." Why would they mention the whip's range if weapon reach is always valid? And I don't think it makes sense to initiate a Grapple from 10' away, especially with something like a longspear or longhammer. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2015 at 0:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PaulHutton re: steal There are many sections of rules that give you abilities made redundant or obsolete by the options normally available to any character. Some of them even charge you resources for such options. cf sniping. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2015 at 1:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Re: Bull Rush, heh, you've made it worse! I was giving that example to show that your statement must be wrong, because of course I should be able to Bull Rush adjacent enemies! Otherwise, if I'm not carrying any weapons (so not threatening any squares) I would not be able to Bull Rush (or worse, Grapple) anyone. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2015 at 1:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Re: Steal, are you saying that quote implies a disadvantage to using whip? The way it is phrased it sounds like an advantage: normally you are stuck with your natural reach, but with a whip you can reach further, albeit at -4. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2015 at 1:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ A PF whip is 15ft, hence you can do the trip and disarm at 15ft. \$\endgroup\$
    – DoStuffZ
    Feb 18, 2015 at 9:11

I've got a different interpretation from the dark wanderer, but asked this question because I don't think the rules are clear enough to definitively say. So this answer is my way of seeing which interpretation is most popular – let the votes decide!

Usually, the distance you can attack depends on the weapon you are wielding. But you can make combat maneuvers even when unarmed, without even suffering any penalties (indeed, grapple gives a -4 penalty if you don't have two free hands). This is done at what I'm going to call your natural reach (5' for medium creatures, 10' for large, etc).

I think most maneuvers can only be performed at this range.

Disarm, Sunder & Trip are a bit different: they replace melee attacks instead of taking standard actions and there are special weapon features that make them more effective – I think these use the reach of the weapon whose attacks they replace. If you are using a reach weapon, you can trip someone 10' away, but not 5' away. (Of course, if it's your turn, you can free a hand and make the maneuver unarmed at your natural reach.)

But the other maneuvers can only be performed at your natural reach. The strongest support for this is in the rules for Steal (emphasis mine):

Although this maneuver can only be performed if the target is within your reach, you can use a whip to steal an object from a target within range with a –4 penalty on the attack roll.

A whip has a 15' reach. If maneuvers can normally be performed at your weapon's reach, why did it get a special callout here? The only in the quote above implies that the whip's case is a bonus (even though it is at a -4 penalty), so other reach weapons must not be as useful.

And I think this makes sense. Equipping yourself with a spear or a pole-arm isn't likely to extend your ability to steal a potion from someone's belt.

Likewise, Reposition, Drag and, especially, Grapple shouldn't benefit from a reach weapon.

Overrun is a special case because it involves moving through an opponent's square(s), so has nothing to do with reach.

Dirty Trick requires a bit more narration and DM involvement, so it will depend on what you come up with at the time.

That leaves Bull Rush. Rules-wise, it's quite similar to Reposition and Drag, so I'd be happy to restrict it to natural reach, too. But I can see a reach weapon, especially something like a spear, being used to fend off an opponent and force them back. This one is what prompted my question in the first place and remains the one I'm most uncertain about.


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