Fair warning this is going to be a rant. I hate, despise, loath, and down right dislike the AoO system from third edition d&d and by extension pathfinder. this system is so bad that they completely did away with it in 5e. the only remnants are feats that allow extra reaction hits and if you run from a fight your enemies get a free attack on you, something mind you that was back in the old D&D days also.
now what is my issues you may ask. well first the whole AoO system kinda forces you to always use tokens and a grid for combat. the very nature of using those reduces a players options in battle as they no longer think of an open battle field, but rather think about a grid with distinct grid points. in other words it goes from I run to fight the orc and go 30 ft straight to him to I run three grids up and three left in order to get there within my movement allotment as diagonal movement costs more for me to move. combat goes from looking like it does in the movies or real life to looking like a giant chess game. now many people will cry “but it is more tactical” that is BS what you mean is it is more of a board game. you see you do not need mini’s, grids, or AoO to be tactical. take Warhammer 40k Deathwatch RPG. it does not use grids you do not need mini’s though you can use them and it is extremely tactical because you are playing soldiers each with special moves and squad based attacks. or take deadlands it uses mini’s as there main go to (with rules for non mini play) but no AoO or grids and once again tactics are used a lot in it. note both of those games come from companies that started as Miniature war gaming companies and later expanded into RPG’s. In 2e without any thing my group routinely created tactics and strategies for many of our fights.
AoO’s even within themselves make no sense. the basic idea was that in cases where you no longer were concentrating on the fight at hand your opponent would get a free attack on you. the thing is you cannot concentrate on more than one thing at any one time that is a psychological fact multitasking does not actually exist. the issue comes now when multiple foes are engaged in combat with one another. if a oh wizard and a fighter are fighting an orc and the wizard decides to cast a spell and not be on the defense the orc gets a free attack..but the orc has just then stopped concentrating on the fighter for that brief moment in order to go hay the wizard is casting a spell I can get an attack on him. therefore the fighter should get a free attack on the orc as they have just stopped concentrating on the fighter. another example in the battle grid a medium size person can be surrounded on eight sides with them in the middle of a three by three grid. now if three of those fronts are empty an they are fighting five opponents things get down right stupid. so player A is fighting three people in front of him and one each to the left and right.his back is empty, and now another foe who is not in the fight decided to run behind Player A. Player A can now turn his butt around and attack the running foe just because he went through Player A’s threatened squares. in other words Player A can ignore five foes and turn his butt around to get a free attack on someone without those five foes getting free attacks on him for breaking his concentration on them. Note remember people cannot focus on multiple things at once. this is why in real life getting jumped by five people is really bad and even trained martial artists attempt to back off so they can engage the fewest number of foes possible.
the other issue is when people say that AoO’s are there to balance the game. this is an even bigger pile of horse poop then the whole tactical thing. the only classes that have to worry about AoO’s are melee classes. Ranged classes and spellcasters are never in range of AoO’s unless they are surprised or stupid. everyone knows that wizards after like 7th level are gods on the battle field. lets see invisibility and fly then either buff, debuff or summon, they will never have to enter 5ft of a person again. clerics buff before a battle, gunslingers or archers can snipe from a football field away.So yeah where is this AoO’s are there for balance by weakening these classes? AoO’s hurt fighter and melee combatants by limiting there options and forcing them to move like pawns on a chess board. a melee fighter has to eat a dozen feats just to be able to move around a battlefield with the same ease a wizard can. that is not right.
sorry for the long rant I will return to my regular unsalted reviews next.