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Let's say "John" is a fighter who has selected a number of feats to focus on tripping his enemies, including Greater Trip, and Combat Reflexes, and wielding a Reach Weapon while under the effect of a potion of Enlarge Person.

Greg is approaching John, and moving from 20ft to 15ft, is tripped by John's AoO, then hammered by Greater Trip.

Greg takes a move action to stand, granting John a second AoO.

Can John use this AoO to trip Greg again, thus keeping him prone?

(Using Greater Trip to provoke an AoO to prevent Heat Death of the Universe. Boredom may still be an unfortunate side effect)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think he means whether John can keep doing it even on subsequent turns, so Greg can never get up. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Jul 29 '15 at 5:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Or it's supposed to be "thus preventing him from standing up at all". \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Jul 29 '15 at 5:40
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No. Attacks of opportunity are resolved prior to resolving the triggering event. Standing up provokes an AoO, and sure, you could use it to trip him again, but he's already prone (technically, he's in the process of standing up, but since he hasn't finished the transition yet, you still get the bonuses for him being prone). After your AoO resolves, the victim then finishes standing up. (However, the victim is probably fairly out of luck in this particular scenario, since he's going to get tripped again if he moves towards or charges the trip-fighter, and advancing via 5-foot steps isn't going to work unless the trip-fighter can't take them away from the victim for whatever reason.)

PFSRD, FAQ:

Q: Does tripping some standing up cause them to stay prone or lose their move-action? This is known as 'Trip Locking' on the paizo forums.

A: (Official FAQ 8/13/10) No. The attack of opportunity is triggered before the action that triggered it is resolved. In this case, the target is still prone when the attack of opportunity occurs (and you get the normal bonuses when making such an attack). Since the trip combat maneuver does not prevent the target's action, the target then stands up. ...

A: (Jason Bulmahn 7/9/10) You can use your AoO to trip a creature that is standing up from prone, but it has no effect, since the AoO is resolved before the action is completed, meaning that the creature is still prone. Once the AoO resolves, the creature would stand up normally...

Furthermore, the parts on attacks of opportunity and concentration heavily imply that an attack of opportunity happens during the triggering event, but without preventing the triggering event unless otherwise stated (like in the case of a spell: just being hit - or even tripped - during spellcasting doesn't necessarily end the spell, if the caster can maintain concentration). To me, this means tripping someone while they're starting to get up just slows them down, not enough to warrant it changing how their turn plays out. (A readied action could be set to trigger after someone finishes standing up, though.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Yeah, I quick-scanned it the first time myself and read it as "AoOs happen before the trigger", but on the second read it was clearer they actually happen during. \$\endgroup\$ – gatherer818 Jul 29 '15 at 15:32
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Here is the link to the FAQ by Paizo. It states,

Trip: When a prone character stands up and provokes an attack of opportunity, can I use that attack to trip the character again? No. The attack of opportunity is triggered before the action that triggered it is resolved. In this case, the target is still prone when the attack of opportunity occurs (and you get the normal bonuses when making such an attack). Since the trip combat maneuver does not prevent the target's action, the target then stands up.

http://paizo.com/paizo/faq/v5748nruor1fm#v5748eaic9n8a

Hopefully this clears up at least the official stance on tripping someone who's prone.

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