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A Flowing Monk gets access to the Redirection ability at lv 1, allowing them, as an Immediate action, to ether trip or reposition an opponent who goes to attack them. My question is, by RAW, does this ability interrupt their attack, say you use it to trip them, would they fall prone and be under the negative effects of the Redirection before their attack?

What if you have greater trip and Vicious Stomp feats? Would you then get your two AOOs before their attack finished resolving as well?

And finally what would happen to their attack if you repositioned them out of their range to attack you?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is actually a great question. I'm going to have to do a little research before deciding if I agree with Anne or Kras... \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Apr 19 '17 at 16:17
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Note: I agree with most of this fine answer, but sometimes it's useful to have other voices address the same topic in a different way.

Immediate actions typically don't interrupt other actions

The flowing monk archetype's extraordinary ability redirection says that "as an immediate action, a flowing monk can attempt a reposition or trip combat maneuver against a creature that the flowing monk threatens and that attacks him," but it's only upon a creature actually making an attack roll that a creature knows it's being attacked, and making an attack roll means either the attack hits and delivers its effect (typically lethal hit point damage) or the attack misses.

In other words, the foe attacks the flowing monk and either hits and delivers its effect or misses. Then the flowing monk can take an immediate action to use the ability redirection.

This, I think, addresses the entirety of the question's timing concerns. Since the immediate action happens after the attack's resolved, the effects of the immediate action aren't occurring while the other actions remain unresolved.

"You gotta be kidding! That's terrible!"

An attack roll represents an "attempt to strike your opponent on your turn in a round. When you make an attack roll, you roll a d20 and add your attack bonus.… If your result equals or beats the target’s Armor Class, you hit and deal damage." That happens all at once. So, unlike in certain trading card games, for instance, before a creature makes an attack roll, a creature isn't committed to any course of action, and after a creature makes an attack roll, the attack either hits and delivers its effect or misses.

So unless an effect specifically says otherwise—and the flowing monk archetype's extraordinary ability redirection does not say otherwise—even an immediate action cannot be taken after the creature declares an attack yet has not made the attack roll (because there is no declare phase in Pathfinder) nor can an immediate action be taken after an attack roll yet before the result is determined because determining the result is part of the attack roll! (That is, simply making an attack roll means either the foe suffers the effects of the attack or the attack misses; making an attack roll does not mean that an attack is, like, on the way! O, no! I better do something!)

For the flowing monk archetype's extraordinary ability redirection to have the possibility of foiling the attack, the redirection ability must, for example, say instead As an immediate action, before the foe's attack roll result is revealed a flowing monk can attempt a reposition or trip combat maneuver against a creature that the flowing monk threatens and that attacks him. I'm not, like, fabricating this before the result is revealed language because I have a hidden agenda and secretly hate immediate actions or anything; that kind of language is used throughout the game.

Also, although an immediate action "can be performed at any time," the immediate action description does not say that it can be taken so that an immediate action can interrupt other actions. Contrast this with, for example, the ready action action, which explicitly says that it can be taken so as to interrupt some actions. The typical immediate action is still taken in sequence after another action resolves and not while another action remains unresolved.1,2

This is a good thing! Honest!

The hardest part of role-playing game design is configuring the system's action sequence. Pathfinder (like its forebear D&D 3.5) tries really hard to avoid significant actions taking place during other actions because, as the question's example illustrates, this raises all sorts of impossibly messy questions, leads to sleepless nights on the parts of GMs, and makes players rage-quit over their GMs' rulings.

Further, were the game to allow actions to be taken consistently while other actions remain unresolved—that is, actually interrupting those actions—, everyone must be given the same opportunity to interrupt each of those in-progress actions during those actions' discrete steps. That's incredibly tedious, and the game often doesn't provide a clear indication of what those steps even are!3

So does this inhibit the combat efficacy of the flowing monk archetype's extraordinary ability redirection? Some. I mean, sure, a flowing monk will probably want an even higher AC than he previously wanted, but, in exchange, it means combats are not like this:

GM: The orc is going to attack the flowing monk.
Player: I'm going to take an immediate action to use the extraordinary ability redirection against the orc. I take an immediate action to use the extraordinary ability redirection. I'm going to make a combat maneuver check against the orc to trip the orc. I make a combat maneuver check against the orc to trip the orc. I'm going to tally my result. I tally my result. I'm going to reveal my result. My result is 19.
GM: I'm going to reveal the result of your trip combat maneuver. It is successful. You will have tripped the orc, and the orc will end up prone in its square.
Player: I'm going to make an attack of opportunity against the orc because I successfully tripped him and I have the feat Great Trip. I make that attack of opportunity. I'm going to make an attack roll. I make an attack roll. I'm going to tally the result. I tally the result. I'm going to announce my result. My result is 17.
GM: You're going to hit and deal damage to the orc. You hit and deal damage to the orc.
Player: I'm going to roll damage for my attack. I roll damage for my attack. I'm going to tally my damage for the attack. I tally the damage. I'm going to reveal how much damage I dealt. I dealt 7 points of damage.
GM: The orc, having been tripped, falls prone in its square. The orc makes an attack roll to stab the flowing monk. I'm going to tally the result. I tally the result. I'm going to announce the result. The result is 15.
Player: My flowing monk's AC is 14.
GM: I'm going to roll damage. I roll damage. I'm going to tally damage. I tally damage. I'm going to announce the amount of damage dealt. The orc deals the flowing monk 5 points of damage.

…Because nobody wants to play that game! (That's an exaggeration, of course. I am certain some folks do want to play that game, but—and I'm gonna go out on a limb here—I think the vast majority prefer to leave such complex event chains to, for example, trading card games.) Also, note that issues can be taken with the above example: I had to guess at some steps in the different events because sometimes the game doesn't make it clear what the steps exist as sometimes there aren't supposed to be steps. That is, even determining some steps becomes an exercise for the GM! Yuck. Seriously, in all but the rarest of cases, leaving taking actions—the absolutely most crucial part of any role-playing game4—in the hands of the GM rather than to the rules is, frankly, a recipe for shouting matches, broken friendships, and reality-checking the GM's rulings via real-life brawls.

So, rather than combat following the example process above, combat goes like this:

GM: The orc attacks the flowing monk, getting a result of 19 on the attack roll.
Player: My flowing monk's AC is 14.
GM: The orc hits and deals 5 points of damage.
Player: I take an immediate action to use the extraordinary ability redirection to make a trip combat maneuver check against the orc, getting a result of 19.
GM: The orc falls prone in its square.
Player: Because of my Greater Trip feat I make an attack of opportunity against the orc, getting a result of 17.
GM: That meets or exceeds the orc's AC.
Player: I rolled 7 points of damage.
GM: Okay. The orc's prone and wounded, and you're less wounded. Who's next?

And this, by comparison, is clean, neat, fast, and playable. It does sacrifice on that altar of playability some of what might be seen as the cinematic nature of the flowing monk's redirection ability, but that's a relatively small sacrifice in light of the alternative.


Notes

1 To be silly about the ability to take immediate actions at any time for a sec, an immediate action also can't be taken five minutes from now, five minutes ago, or during the Cretaceous period (unless the creature's, like, in the Cretaceous period right now, of course). I mean, really, either at any time means literally at any time or it doesn't, right?
2 This is also why an action readied via the ready action typically—interrupting a spell being cast being the prime exception—is taken and resolved first, before the triggering event. Confusion avoided! That is, unless the GM allows creatures to pick ready action triggers like While I'm being stabbed or If I'm falling down a 10-ft.-deep pit. So don't do that.
3 This answer deliberately ignore players actually and in real-life interrupting other players to say what actions their PCs will take. I am unaware of a role-playing game where a player is supposed to yell I stab him! while another player's talking is codified as the preferred method of managing the game's action economy. I suspect there's probably some RPG that uses such a system, though.
4 That, however, is not an exaggeration. RPG Design Challenge: Design an RPG that's both fun and in which PCs don't take actions. Renaming actions, for example, moves doesn't count. (O, and it also doesn't count if the RPG has PCs that cause others to take actions nor if the PCs take actions in the Matrix or in a dream or whatever so that the PCs are not really taking actions. Nice try.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the clear and informative answer, This also answers questions I've had before about spells such as "Stone Shield" and other similar abilities. Makes those lv 1 abilities much less absurdly powerful. \$\endgroup\$ – Erudaki Apr 19 '17 at 20:19
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No. Redirection is an Immediate Action

You will notice that Redirection uses an Immediate Action.

As per Combat Rules, Immediate Actions can be used out of your turn, but they do not state that they must be resolved before the action that triggered them. Using an Immediate Action is a concious choice and are not triggered by anything (by default, there are special cases), you simply decide to use the action and it happens.

Much like a swift action, an immediate action consumes a very small amount of time but represents a larger expenditure of effort and energy than a free action. However, unlike a swift action, an immediate action can be performed at any time—even if it’s not your turn. Casting feather fall is an immediate action, since the spell can be cast at any time.

Using an immediate action on your turn is the same as using a swift action and counts as your swift action for that turn. You cannot use another immediate action or a swift action until after your next turn if you have used an immediate action when it is not currently your turn (effectively, using an immediate action before your turn is equivalent to using your swift action for the coming turn). You also cannot use an immediate action if you are flat-footed.

Unlike Attacks of Opportunity and actions that specifically call out that they happen before the action (or at the same time) that triggered them, such as:

An attack of opportunity “interrupts” the normal flow of actions in the round. If an attack of opportunity is provoked, immediately resolve the attack of opportunity, then continue with the next character’s turn (or complete the current turn, if the attack of opportunity was provoked in the midst of a character’s turn).

You will notice that all abilities/feats i listed do mention that they happen before the action that triggers them, or at the exact same time (for swap places). However, there are multiple other abilities that are also immediate actions but not happen before whatever triggered them, such as re-rolls, or abilities that change the result of an action that already happened (like Saving Finale or Intercept Charge).

This is also different from a Readied Action, which also states that can interrupt the flow of actions:

You can ready a standard action, a move action, a swift action, or a free action. To do so, specify the action you will take and the conditions under which you will take it. Then, anytime before your next action, you may take the readied action in response to that condition. The action occurs just before the action that triggers it. If the triggered action is part of another character's activities, you interrupt the other character. Assuming he is still capable of doing so, he continues his actions once you complete your readied action. Your initiative result changes. For the rest of the encounter, your initiative result is the count on which you took the readied action, and you act immediately ahead of the character whose action triggered your readied action.

That means that Immediate Actions do not interrupt the flow of actions unless the ability says it does. If Redirection said that it happened before the attack, then your redirect would interrupt the attack action and happen before the attack roll is made. Since it says "when you are attacked", and does not mention anything about happening before the attack, that means the attack already happened, we simply don't know the result yet.

Certain abilities can be used before the damage is rolled, like Pushing Assault, while others can be used before the target reduces the damage taken by his natural/magical defenses, like Clustered Shots. But for Redirection, nothing was stated on the ability's text, thus the character is attacked, takes damage, then can use his ability on the attacker.

Also, keep in mind that using Redirection without Improved Trip and Improved Repositon (both are options of bonus feats) will provoke an attack of opportunity by your character.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ To be clear, your No at the beginning and the paragraph at the end seem to contradict. Are you saying Redirection happens before the enemies attack rolls and lands damage? or that the attack goes through first, then he falls prone and takes AOOs/is redirected? \$\endgroup\$ – Erudaki Apr 19 '17 at 16:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ No. The paragraph at the end is saying that the monk provokes an AOO if he lacks these feats. I didnt address improved trip as the rules for attacks of opportunity are clear on this. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Apr 19 '17 at 16:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was talking moreso about your paragraph stating "But since Redirection is an Immediate Action and..." "...should apply immediately, reducing the damage caused by the attacker (if he actually hits you)." Is this stating that the trip and or reposition would also apply before the damage as you seem to state the sickened condition would as well? \$\endgroup\$ – Erudaki Apr 19 '17 at 16:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes. Because AoO do interrupt the flow of actions and are resolved first. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Apr 19 '17 at 16:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ I dont understand, I was not reffering to the attacks of opportunity, but rather the affects of the Redirection ability, which is an Immediate Action. So what your saying is : 1 Orc Goes to attack me - I redirect 2 Assuming I have feats and reach - I reposition him further then he can reach me 3 Orc Can no longer Reach. Loses attack if no one else around to hit \$\endgroup\$ – Erudaki Apr 19 '17 at 16:47
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Yes

an immediate action can be performed at any time—even if it’s not your turn.

Redirection (Ex)

At 1st level, as an immediate action, a flowing monk can attempt a reposition or trip combat maneuver against a creature that the flowing monk threatens and that attacks him.

The key words here are at any time and attacks him. The flowing monk can use Redirection once the creature declares their attack on the monk and the monk threatens that creature. At any time means you can perform your Redirection before the creature makes their attack roll.

So, if your CMB is successful then they would suffer from the negative effects of the CMB and the sickened condition.

In the case of greater trip and vicious stomps, you would get your attacks of opportunity before the attacking creature gets to make their attack as they are specifically intended to break the flow of combat and are resolved when they are triggered. However, please note that unless you have combat reflexes, you can only take one AoO per turn.

If you reposition the attacking creature so that they can no longer attack you, then that invalidates the attack and they can choose to perform another standard action. However if they still have enough move, I'm pretty sure they can choose to move back into range and attack you with whatever actions they have left.

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    \$\begingroup\$ RE: "The flowing monk can use Redirection once the creature declares their attack on the monk and the monk threatens that creature." Can rule s be cited saying a creature declares that it's making an attack prior to making attack? Likewise, that such a declaration forces the creature to follow through with that action? (Note that I've not downvoted this answer because it makes no claims of the game's designers' intentions, and, instead, it seems to be expressing an opinion but without support. Adding a statement that this is an opinion or citing the rules would make it much stronger, tho.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 19 '17 at 21:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan This thread on the paizo forum paizo.com/threads/… supports my basis that immediate actions can be taken at any time. As a bonus it directly relates to Redirection. However it is old and it doesn't have game designer input. So I guess we have to take it as opinion as well. I'll see if I can find something else. \$\endgroup\$ – Visfarix Apr 20 '17 at 14:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is to my great sorrow that neither Wizards nor Paizo publish step-by-step, blow-by-blow examples of how combat (and, therefore, actions) should work. (In early splats—before immediate actions were a thing—wizards put a few then stopped.) And, while I respect that thread's literalism and consistency (it even has immediate actions allow time travel!), it's opinions remain the opinions of players not designers. I still need proof in the rules of a declare phase in general (that is, outside of specific cases like charging) before I can upvote this answer. Thanks for researching, though! \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 20 '17 at 14:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think wizards and paizo intentionally leave it vague to allow DM adjudication to determine how players can play and what would constitute the most fun for a group of players. It makes sense when you consider wizards also makes MtG which does have an extremely detailed step-by-step turn order, everything perfectly stacks and resolves, card language is standardized, and rulings are quickly made for these kinds of instances. \$\endgroup\$ – Visfarix Apr 20 '17 at 14:35
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Yes, that's how immediate actions work: they are specifically intended to break your opponent's flow of actions.

The opponent starts his attack, you do your maneuver, all the consequences of this maneuver apply (including possible attacks of opportunity), and only then the opponent can perform her attack (if she is still able to).

If you manage to reposition her so she can't hit you anymore (it is not trivial since you can't reposition someone outside of your own reach, so you would need to have a higher reach than you opponent) she just looses her action.*


*I'm not 100% sure about this, though, take that part carefully. As soon as I find sources this will be updated.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I downvoted your answer because I think it's unclear that the designers intended immediate actions to be performed during actions which remain unresolved. If evidence can be marshaled to support this position, I'll happily change my vote (and such evidence will significantly alter how I play my own games!) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 19 '17 at 19:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know it's a different system, but d&d 4ed took the immediate action a step further and split it between Immediate Actions and Interrupt Actions, the later actually happening before the action that triggered it. Since pathfinder is based on d&d 3.5, this can be seen as a direct "update" on the intent of designers to make things clearer when those type of actions can interrupt the flow of actions or not. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Apr 19 '17 at 19:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan: After looking back at the examples I had in mind they seem way less convincing (they basically all have a description of how they interfere with the action that triggered them, and it's not always the same way). Other answers are more satisfying. \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme Apr 20 '17 at 9:01

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