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When reading the rules from PH3.5 about feints, it states that a feint is a standard action, or with the feat "improved feint" it can be a movement action.

So unlike with others special attacks that can replace one attack in a full round attack, a feint cannot replace a single attack roll. One who has no particular feat dedicated to improving feint must use the full round to make a movement action (if useful) and a feint, then wait for the next round to benefit from the feint.

But during that time, the enemy might counterattack or move, so I wonder how my feint can be effective until the next round. The rule would be much more understandable if a feint was a replacement of any attack roll, so that for example someone fighting with two weapon could make a feint with its off-hand, then immediately attack with its main-hand, or a warrior with several attacks per round could make a feint on first attack, then take benefit from it on the following attack don't you feel?

And in case you know of different rules from any 3.0/3.5 rulebook, please give the book name, so that I can show it to my MD.

Thanks

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I don't understand what your question is. The title is about why a feint can't be part of a full attack action, but you answered it in the first sentence. Are you asking for a way to use Feint more easily? –  Tridus Feb 6 at 13:38
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I am asking for the reason they made the rule like that since it is illogical and there are other kind of attacks with different mechanics. My impression is that the person who made the rule did not think about the "several attacks per round" possibility when making the rules, and I am asking for any expanded rule or errata, or at least a better justification for not being able to make a feint as part of a full round attack. –  Epeedefeu Feb 6 at 13:45
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@Epeedefeu That’s an impossible-to-answer question. No one knows, we have absolutely no evidence one way or the other. Very, very few questions of “why” a particular rule is the way it is can be addressed in any meaningful fashion, particularly when the rule is dumb (as here). –  KRyan Feb 6 at 14:20

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

“Why” is a question we cannot answer

The authors very rarely give us any insight, commentary, or evidence for the reasoning that went into individual rules. As far as I am aware, there is none for this particular rule. That makes it an impossible question to answer.

However, I want to address some other points:

It doesn’t make sense: the rules often don’t

There are tons and tons of rules that don’t make sense in 3.x. Some of them are simply abstractions to ease play, some of them are corner-cases the desigerns probably didn’t consider, and some, like this one, just.... don’t make a lot of sense

It doesn’t seem fair: things rarely are

Yes, Feint is basically a complete waste of time because of the way the rules work. The only person who cares enough about the flat-footed status to consider the move is the rogue, and the rogue relies on dual wielding and full-attacks so he can apply Sneak Attack as many times per round as possible, so he’s not going to use Feint (except with the invisible blade prestige class; see Tridus’s answer). Meanwhile, Feinting would be an appropriate and useful move for the rogue, who could use to have it just a little easier to apply Sneak Attack.

All true. The rules don’t care. There are much greater balance problems than these in the rules.

Solution: Houseruling!

Your suggestion that Feinting replace a single attack, rather than being a standard or move action, is a pretty good one. I suggest that, even though you do it first, it replace your attack with the lowest attack bonus (since you won’t be using it anyway as a Feint is a Bluff check). Without Improved Feint, I suggest, have it only apply to the next attack, but allow Improved Feint to allow it to apply to the rest of your attacks that turn.

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The only way to use a Feint and a full round attack at the same time is with the Invisible Blade prestige class. At 5th level, that class can Feint as a free action:

Uncanny Feint (Ex): At 3rd level, an invisible blade gains the ability to feint in combat (see page 68 of the Player's Handbook) as a move action rather than a standard action. At 5th level, the character can feint in combat as a free action. An invisible blade can use uncanny feint only when armed with a dagger, kukri, or punching dagger.

It also gains the ability to take 10 on the Feint bluff check, and if you really want to use Feint is the best way to make it at least somewhat workable.

In general (without Invisible Blade making it useful), Feint is a really bad action. You only get the effect for one attack (out of the several in your full attack), and many of the hardest to hit enemies don't have much Dexterity bonus anyway. It would let you use Sneak Attack as a Rogue, but flanking can do that far more reliably (as can Hide in Plain Sight/Invisibility). Plus, some of the things you can use it against will have very high sense motive checks, so it won't likely work against those anyway.

If you're a Rogue, the Disruptive Attack ACF in Players Handbook II is better pretty much all the time. That's a flat -5 AC, on every attack, made by every player until your next turn. Including all of your other attacks.

As for why Feint is this way? I don't know why they wrote the rules the way they did, but there is no errata that changes it. You could house rule something in, but it's probably easier to just use Disruptive Attack and/or Flanking.

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Feint is just a slightly awkward name, because anyone who knows what the term means outside of the game thinks of a quick false attack to mis-direct that is almost immediately followed up with a real attack with full commitment.

Very few game rules attempt to track blow-by-blow activity in combat - the necessary detail is not really there. In the game's "reality" skilled fighters of many types will be making testing and feint-like attacks in order to get their high attack bonuses. We don't mention these "feints" in the game because they are not exposed as individual game mechanics.

It might help to think of the game "reality" for Feint as a longer-running mis-direction, perhaps a series of several moves, made in order to trick an opponent to make a bad move and gain a clever advantage against them. That's not what you or I might call a "feint", but it has similar intent, and I think it is just the designers chose a simple stick-in-the-mind name for this combat use of the Bluff skill.

So to answer your question, "Why can't a feint be part of a full round attack?" it is because despite the name, it isn't an attack per se, but a different kind of melee action. As such, there is no need to integrate it into the generic attack rules any more than standing from prone, using a skill like Tumble or casting a spell.

If you want to improve ease of access to Feint, bear in mind what it is mostly used for, and try to maintain balance. Using Feint a Rogue can get Sneak Attack damage with reasonable chance of success. This needs to balance against other ways that the Rogue can get the same bonus damage - many of which require additional actions, or have other limitations. If Feint was obviously superior, then by attempting to add an option back into the game, you would risk making other options sub-optimal instead.

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Feint is all-but-impossible to use under any circumstances, so have to downvote any suggestion that it would be a bad idea to make it useable. Burning a feat and losing an attack, or losing fully half your attacks, is a huge drawback as it is; losing an entire turn is just insane. –  KRyan Feb 6 at 18:35
    
@KRyan: I didn't mean to negate all options, so I've tried to re-word to get the gist. Losing a Standard Action is not necessarily so insane compared to limitations on using Stealth. –  Neil Slater Feb 6 at 19:09
    
Stealth is the wrong thing to compare it to because that’s a primarily out-of-combat tactic and not how most rogues get most of their Sneak Attacks. Flanking is the usual method and works far better than either stealth or any suggestions regarding feinting. –  KRyan Feb 6 at 19:17
    
@KRyan: It is difficult to compare Feint with flanking. I guess really it should be "investment in extra options that grant Sneak Attack" versus payback of how often those extra options actually turn up in play. Stealth has extras too (Hide in Plain Sight). I'm out of touch enough with Pathfinder that I could not suggest any target value of how often Rogues should get SA depending on level etc. But I figure a Rogue that specialised in Feint should be rewarded as much as any other tactic to make things fair. –  Neil Slater Feb 6 at 20:13
    
The question is tagged 3.5, not PF, but in either case rogues should be getting: (levels 1-8) 2, (levels 9-15) 4, or (levels 16-20) 6 Sneak Attacks in a round, and should be able to do so almost every round, if they want much combat presence. –  KRyan Feb 6 at 20:17

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