An enemy is just around a corner and isn't visible to a player who decides to move (unknowingly) past the enemy during combat. The enemy has a higher initiative and has chosen to ready their attack in case somebody goes by them.

If the player is simply moving (not running or charging) does the enemy get to use their readied attack as well as to perform an attack of opportunity (both immediately and without the player being able to do anything about it)? Perhaps the rules are really clear about this, but my personal feeling is as follows:

The player's movement into the adjacent square immediately triggers the readied attack. If the player is actually struck, they would become aware of the opponent and decide not to continue blindly moving towards their original target. This means that the attack of opportunity that would result from moving out of a threatened square wouldn't occur unless the player actually wants to continue moving forward. In the event that the readied attack misses perhaps the player would continue on unaware, setting off the attack of opportunity.

Or not :) I am probably wrong in my assumption here.

For further detail the corner is what is hiding the opponent (no invisibility or darkness). Imagine moving past a hallway entrance that intersects (ie t-intersection) the hallway the pc is trying to move down. So the pc is moving down a straight hallway. As they pass the hallway entrance the enemy hiding there makes their triggered readied attack.

The GM seemed to really want two attacks to happen, but I questioned whether or not they would if the first attack was a hit :) I felt that the pc should be given the chance to stop their movement and prevent the inevitable attack of opportunity.

In the case of the readied attack missing and not being noticeable, I would expect an immediate attack of opportunity to be valid.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is the enemy under the effects of greater invisibility or some other effect that would cause them to remain invisible to the PC even after they make an attack? I can start on my answer anyway, but it changes the situation significantly if the enemy is in darkness or greater invisibility or something where the PC can't see them after they round the corner. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 27, 2016 at 14:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you wondering whether it's legit for a creature to stop moving after the creature's declared its movement or are you wondering if an unseen creature can make a readied attack and an attack of opportunity against a foe that merely enters its threatened area? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 28, 2016 at 2:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah I guess I am really wondering if it is ok for a creature to change their declared movement as events unfold during their movement. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 28, 2016 at 2:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ This question and its answers may be of interest. Although for D&D 3.5, Pathfinder left the ready action largely unchanged. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 28, 2016 at 2:37

1 Answer 1


The PC moves (not runs, not charges) through a doorway or around a corner and comes into view of the enemy. Assuming the PC is close enough, the enemy takes their readied action.

If they hit, the PC becomes aware there is someone attacking them, and can choose to stop moving, or to spend their remaining movement in a different manner than they had planned.

If they miss, but they're using a weapon that necessarily hits the wall or floor on a miss (maybe they're using Snap Shot to threaten with a ranged weapon?), or else if they would have hit the PC without their armor (so the attack "missed" because it hit the armor and didn't penetrate it), the unharmed PC becomes aware there is someone attacking them, and can choose to stop moving, or to spend their remaining movement in a different manner than they had planned.

If they miss with a melee weapon that doesn't make noise on a miss and didn't bounce off the PC's armor, but they are using invisibility or Stealth or just the fact they were previously behind a wall to remain hidden from the PC, their method of remaining hidden is no longer valid (invisibility and Stealth break on attacks, obviously the wall isn't blocking sight at this point if attacks are possible), the PC becomes aware there is someone there, and can choose to stop moving, or to spend their remaining movement in a different manner than they had planned.

However, if they miss with a melee weapon without making noise or touching the PC, and somehow still remain hidden from the PC (such as through greater invisibility), then the PC remains unaware of the attack. Said PC could still stop moving or choose to spend their remaining movement in a different manner, but the player should really only have them do so with a good reason (the hallway or room presents something they didn't expect, like turning a corner in a dungeon and seeing an obviously trapped corridor or something).

In all of these cases, the PC is likely to provoke an attack of opportunity for leaving a threatened square if they don't choose to stop, since they've already started moving they can't choose to withdraw or take a five foot step. If they're aware of the enemy, however, they can choose to use Acrobatics to attempt to continue their movement (or adjust it) without provoking the attack of opportunity, but they can still only move up to half speed while doing so unless they take the DC increase for moving full speed.

TL;DR: A PC can always adjust their movement, as long as they're taking an action that allows it. Charges cannot stop before the target square (and can't abort the attack at the end of the charge unless the target becomes impossible to hit). Depending on your GM, a Run might not be able to stop partway through the move, especially if they haven't cleared at least a "double-move" yet (since the point of a Run is to go further than a double-move), but there's not a rule for it specifically. Normal and double-moves and the Withdraw action allow you to spend your allotted movement one square at a time, and even if you were going one way, you might choose to go another - like heading to the kitchen but seeing a guest at the front door on the way, you can turn and go greet your guest.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Do the rules explicitly state that you don't need to decide your entire movement when starting to move? It is a more reasonable interpretation than the alternative, but I could not find it in the combat chapter of the SRD. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tommi
    Mar 28, 2016 at 6:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Thanuir I think the better question is Where does the game mandate declared unchangeable movement? That is, were the game to mandate declaring a path then following that path absolutely, because parts of the environment may be unknown to the creature, a creature would be pretty much forced to stop and reassess the environment after rounding every corner. But, because a creature can see and move simultaneously, the creature can elect, for example, to round a corner then go back whence it came in the same turn upon seeing the dragon the creature didn't know was around the corner. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 28, 2016 at 14:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Thanuir I don't believe it is stated anywhere, although I believe some examples make it obvious, I don't have them handy. However, there's no "order of operations" in Pathfinder except where specifically noted, nothing that says you declare actions before taking them, you just do them. In the case of movement, you don't declare your endpoint and then move, you just move. If the battlefield (or your understanding of it) changes, you should be free to spend your remaining movement differently. (Unless charging, or maybe running.) \$\endgroup\$ Mar 28, 2016 at 16:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Notably, somewhere around the Combat chapter is a note that you don't have to declare if you're taking a full attack action or a standard attack action until AFTER your first attack in a turn, unless the difference would make a difference on that first attack (such as with Rapid Shot or Two Weapon Fighting). You can attack once, then based on the result of that attack, decide if that was the first attack of your full attack or if you'd rather take a move action instead of the rest. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 28, 2016 at 16:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Seems this is left implicit in the rules. (Nothing wrong with that.) Based on a comment of the original asker, you might want to edit some of this into the answer. It seems that this issue is what prompted the question and the bits about visibility were more of a red herring. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tommi
    Mar 29, 2016 at 5:49

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