In a recent game, a scenario arose where a character lost initiative but subsequently was granted an attack of opportunity (had Combat Reflexes) by an enemy. There was a follow up discussion about whether or not that character could power attack before the AOO.
Power Attack reads:
On your action, before making attack rolls for a round, you may choose to subtract a number from all melee attack rolls and add the same number to all melee damage rolls. This number may not exceed your base attack bonus. The penalty on attacks and bonus on damage apply until your next turn.
The thought was that this was before the characters attack rolls and thus could be applied (and would last until their next turn). Similarly, if a character on their initiative did a double move then later (but before their next initiative) an enemy provoked an attack of opportunity, it was thought that the character could also power attack then, 'before making attack rolls for a round'.
Notably Power Attack says "On your action," not "On your turn,". Thusly, I suspect the question could be answered, by the answer if an attack of opportunity (or the melee attack it generates) is an action or not, however there may be other answers/evidence here. Neither me nor my friend could find anything definitively answering this in the PH or FAQ. I am hoping someone else knows of a ruling to this.
I prefer RAW answers as I suspect other would just be opinion, however am not adding that tag. Thanks in advance.
- The glossary supports that all attacks are actions ["attack" pg 305 - 3.5 PHB:]
Any of numerous actions intended to harm, disable, or neutralize an opponent.
However, this could also describe any number of non-melee attacks (which is what AOO gives).
- AOO is not listed anywhere in the combat actions chart as an action. It is listed as an exception (THE COMBAT ROUND on pg 138 of the PHB).
When a character's turn comes up in the initiative sequence, that character performs his entire round's worth of actions. (For exceptions, see Attacks of Opportunity and Special Initiative Actions).
Possibly related Standard action maneuver AoO. Specifically the differentiation between the melee attack an AOO gives and a normal "action".
STANDARD ACTIONS pg 139 PHB
"Attack - Making an attack is a standard action."
Obviously not the case here, but supports the fact it's an action OR(/and) supports the fact that since it's not a standard action, the AOO melee attack isn't an action as defined here.
- ATTACKS OF OPPORTUNITY pg 137 PHB
"...combatants near her can take advantage of her lapse in defense to attack her for free. These free attacks are called attacks of opportunity."
Clarifies it's an attack and speaks that it's free (free action?).