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I'm asking here because I've gotten different responses from different DMs. My home campaign DM said I had to activate my Knight's defender aura during my first round of an encounter before it was effective. One of the DMs at the D&D Encounters group I attend said that I didn't need to activate the aura because it was assumed that as an at-will aura it was always active unless I choose to deactivate it or become unconscious.

An aura is a continuous effect that emanates from a creature. Unless otherwise noted, an aura uses the following rules.The glossary entry in the compendium states:

Deactivating an Aura: A creature can take a minor action to deactivate or reactivate one of its auras. However, certain auras have set durations and cannot be reactivated after they end.

Death or Unconsciousness Ends: A creature’s auras end immediately when it falls unconscious or dies. - Rules Compendium page 308.

So I assume it should be active unless I say otherwise.

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

This depends completely on how you and your DM decide to go with it.

There are two options here, and which one gets chosen may actually depend on the circumstances surrounding the combat.

  1. The defender's aura is always up unless otherwise noted. Unless you deactivate the aura specifically, it's up in combat or out.

  2. The defender's aura must be activated at the beginning of combat. Just like any other power it has to be activated to be effective in combat.

To me, for at-will stances, auras and other essentials powers that you can choose between multiples or have to activate, I prefer the idea that your character has a default state in which he begins combat. A defender's Aura is active, a Scout is already in his default stance (whichever he declares as default) unless he was in something else right before combat. This seems only fair, especially when PCs get a surprise round (a fighter gets to mark his target in a surprise round, the Knight should have his aura up etc).

However, I also support the DM excepting this rule. For instance if the party is caught flatfooted not expecting combat, maybe the Knight or Cav doesn't have his aura up initially and has to activate it.

Last thing. PC auras work rather differently than monster auras. The defender is not going to run through town menacing anything that comes near him (or whatever other model you have for your aura). It does make sense for PC's power based auras to have to be activated in some instances.

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In a threatening environment (whatever hat is) a character could easily perpetually maintain an at will until end of encounter minor action aura... –  Simon Withers Oct 25 '12 at 21:59
    
@SimonWithers exactly. In my opinion (and how I'd DM it) it's only in cases when they are caught completely off guard that i'd make them spend an action to get it up. –  wax eagle Oct 26 '12 at 1:12
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YES, but...

Defender's Aura requires a minor action to activate, so if you don't have it up, you have to spend a minor action to get it up.

However, it does not end at the end of an encounter, so you don't need to use an action to raise it at the start of each subsequent encounter.

It does drop when you take an extended rest (assuming you fall asleep and thereby fall unconscious) but you can take a minor action to start the aura up again before the first encounter of the day begins (assuming you aren't surprised while sleeping).

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