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Consider the following situation:

situation sketch

target is using a reach weapon (a glaive). Is it possible for character to move to C1 and attack target avoiding an attack of opportunity from the reach weapon by tumbling past the reach weapon?

Character is a 10th level rogue with a +15 in Tumble and Skill Mastery in Tumble, so she should be able to do the tumble without having to roll for it.

Second question: character has the Spring Attack feat. Is she able to attack target (using Tumble) and move back to her starting position without provoking an attack of opportunity? She has a movement of 30.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Since the two questions are so related I thought it was better to ask them in one question. However, if necessary I can split the question in two separate question. \$\endgroup\$ – Pantalaimon Aug 20 '15 at 14:03
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Getting past reach? This is what the skill Tumble is for...

At least, it's a really important part of what the skill Tumble is for.

Although Ernir's answer accurately quotes the skill Tumble from the Player's Handbook, the Rules Compendium makes the tumbling past part of this use of the skill Tumble a bit clearer:

If you succeed on a DC 15 Tumble check, you can move past opponents without provoking attacks of opportunity. You must make a Tumble check to avoid provoking attacks of opportunity from an opponent as you move by that foe, adding 2 to the DC for each opponent after the first. Failure means you provoke attacks of opportunity normally. If two opponents must be passed at the same time, the tumbler chooses which one to check against first.

Bear in mind that movement is not plotted then taken, heedless of consequences or changing battlefield conditions. With a deeply literal definition of move past, according to the diagram, the character would move from A1 to B1 to C1 to D2 to E1 to F2, provoking an attack of opportunity from the target during B1 to C1 but being unable to make a Tumble check to avoid the attack of opportunity until he moved from E1 to F2. This would make for a lot of dead rogues as it would render this use of the Tumble skill pointless, the character being unable to make Tumble skill checks until he was, in some DM-defined way, past the creature.

Instead, movement is completed square by square. When the character decides to move, he moves from A1 to B1, entering a threatened area and not provoking an attack of opportunity from the target. The the character can decide to continue moving from B1 to C1 and provoke an attack of opportunity from the target or use the skill Tumble to get past that target, avoiding that and future movement-generated attacks of opportunity in the same vein from that target this round.1

So when the text of either description says move past or move by, that's shorthand for move within or exit an opponent's threatened area. Since entering a threatened area doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity, after entering and upon moving within or exiting the threatened area, the character is moving past the target, i.e. past the area the target threatens with its great big pole arm.2

That use of the skill Tumble really is to give the character a chance to avoid attacks of opportunity from the target for the character's movement.

...But the skill Tumble is unnecessary if the character has the feat Spring Attack and wants to attack the target

The premium edition of the Player's Handbook (2012) updates the benefit of the feat Spring Attack:

When using the attack action with a melee weapon, you can split your move action in that round in order to move both before and after the attack, provided that the total distance moved is not greater than your speed. Moving this way does not provoke an attack of opportunity from the defender you attack, though it might provoke attacks of opportunity from other creatures, if appropriate. You can't use this feat if you are wearing heavy armor.

You must move at least 5 feet both before and after you make your attack in order to utilize the benefits of Spring Attack. (100)

While this update could've used another editorial pass,3 this makes it clear that, as per the diagram, the character can use part of his speed to move into a position to attack the target, make a standard attack against the target, then move back to his starting position—or another position—using the remainder of his speed, all without provoking attacks of opportunity from the target for the character's movement and without using the skill Tumble.


1 Were the character then to try to move through the target's square, that's a whole 'nother thing.
2 Of course, its possible he's also moving past the target's threatened area into another area the target threatens. Luckily for the character, the character's movement this way can only provoke an attack of opportunity from the target once per round.
3 Two uses of in order and a utilize? Ew.

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Yes, you can Tumble past a reach weapon.

Let's take a look at what the Tumble skill says:

[DC 15] Tumble at one-half speed as part of normal movement, provoking no attacks of opportunity while doing so. Failure means you provoke attacks of opportunity normally. Check separately for each opponent you move past, in the order in which you pass them (player’s choice of order in case of a tie). Each additional enemy after the first adds +2 to the Tumble DC.

So if you can make a DC 15 Tumble skill check, your normal (half-speed) movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity. Particularly, note that this is per opponent, making no distinctions about their reach or threatened area.

It is also possible to Spring Attack around a reach weapon.

Let's also take a look at Spring Attack:

When using the attack action with a melee weapon, you can move both before and after the attack, provided that your total distance moved is not greater than your speed. Moving in this way does not provoke an attack of opportunity from the defender you attack, though it might provoke attacks of opportunity from other creatures, if appropriate.

Again, this works on a per-creature basis, in this case that of the defender. When Spring Attacking, the defender doesn't get an AoO, period. There is not even a need to Tumble, which is one difference between Spring Attack and the somewhat similar Flyby Attack.

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    \$\begingroup\$ But you cannot combine the two with a speed of 30, because moving at half speed means you can only move 3 squares and you won't end back up at your starting position. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Aug 20 '15 at 14:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. As for the Tumble, I probably agree with you, although technically you are not 'passing' the opponent. \$\endgroup\$ – Pantalaimon Aug 20 '15 at 14:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ As for the Spring Attack, I thought the AoO bit concerned the moving back part of the movement which would normally provoke an AoO. This would mean that you could also move to e.g. D0 without provoking an AoO as long as you do a Spring Attack? \$\endgroup\$ – Pantalaimon Aug 20 '15 at 14:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Erik 'as part of normal movement' suggests that you can combine normal movement with Tumble; in that case you can move 5 ft normally; tumble 5 ft and then do the same in reverse. Right? \$\endgroup\$ – Pantalaimon Aug 20 '15 at 14:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Erik You can use accelerated tumble to move more than three squares. You also can tumble, then swim, then hustle (normal combat movement), and then jump all as parts of one move action provided you have enough speed. \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp Aug 20 '15 at 15:09

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