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I would think that's the intended use but I want to be sure.

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up vote 14 down vote accepted


The total defense action says

You can defend yourself as a standard action. You get a +4 dodge bonus to your AC for 1 round. Your AC improves at the start of this action. You can't combine total defense with fighting defensively or with the benefit of the Combat Expertise feat. You can't make attacks of opportunity while using total defense.

This is in lieu of taking a different standard action, like a standard attack. You can instead fight defensively while taking either the standard attack action or the full attack action.

Fighting Defensively as a Standard Action: You can choose to fight defensively when attacking. If you do so, you take a –4 penalty on all attacks in a round to gain a +2 to AC until the start of your next turn.

Fighting Defensively as a Full-Round Action: You can choose to fight defensively when taking a full-attack action. If you do so, you take a –4 penalty on all attacks in a round to gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC until the start of your next turn.

...But Exceptions Exist

The volume of stuff available to Pathfinder characters means that if you want to do something, you probably can, although maybe not to the degree you'd prefer. For example, the feat Desperate Swing 1/day permits a halfling who's taking the total defense action to make an attack; the halfling suffers a -4 penalty on the attack roll.

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Actually, you can, provided you get an extra standard action from somewhere, or a way to attack as a free/swift/immediate action before using total defense, etc. I'm AFB at the moment, so I'm not entirely sure if there's a purely Pathfinder way to do this, though. – Yandros Oct 10 '14 at 23:41
@Yandros Do you believe this answer to be inaccurate making that worth mentioning? That is, do you think the question is instead asking, "Is there any way a creature can take the total defense action and attack on the same turn?" and that I've misread it? I mean, that's cool, but the question seemed to ask for a relatively straightforward general clarification of total defense not, for example, hypotheticals or that 1 build that could do that. – Hey I Can Chan Oct 10 '14 at 23:52
Certainly not! I just wanted to add a clarification, lest anyone think "You can't attack and do Total Defense in the same turn" is a general rule. Your post answered the question just fine; if I thought it was inaccurate, I would have posted an answer myself. – Yandros Oct 11 '14 at 11:08
@Yandros That a creature can't attack and take the action total defense in the same turn is the general rule. But I did some more research and, because Pathfinder, there is a way that probably deserves mentioning in case this is someone's dream. – Hey I Can Chan Oct 11 '14 at 13:45

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