[RPG] Does rapid reload + paper cartridge remove attack of opportunity associated with reloading


I'm a new pathfinder player that just rolled a gulch gunner: the ratfolk gunslinger archetype that specializes on close quarter attacks with guns to regain grit. I've tried to find a clear answer to this question elsewhere, but have found conflicting information.

From what I understand, rapid reload reduces reloading time for a single-handed pistol from a standard action to a move action. Combining this with paper cartridges further reduces reload time to a free action.

So, if I move to a spot adjacent to an opponent, perform a ranged attack, and provoke an attack of opportunity (thus regaining grit—the principal mechanic of gulch gunner play), can I use the rapid reload (pistol) + paper cartridge combo to reload my weapon without provoking another attack of opportunity that is usually associated with reloading time? Or, does reloading (even as a free action) always provoke an AoO if I am in range?

Best Answer

Although "[f]ree actions rarely incur attacks of opportunity," reloading a firearm is a free action that totally can. The Paizo messageboards agree that reloading—unless a creature has something special that modifies the action—provokes attacks of opportunity no matter how long it takes to do so.

That is, because neither the feat Rapid Reload nor alchemical cartridges say they eliminate the attack of opportunity that's provoked for reloading a firearm, neither do eliminate that attack of opportunity, even when used in conjunction. In fact, the feat Rapid Reload says, "Reloading a… firearm still provokes attacks of opportunity."