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Page 140 of the Dungeon Master's book states

Once per encounter, a creature can try to gain combat advantage against a target by making a Bluff check

Does this mean that I can bluff my way only once per encounter, or only once per encounter against each creature?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Once per encounter only.

The Rules Compendium has, on page 141 (I've omitted a few paragraphs unnecessary for this discussion)

Bluff

Gain Combat Advantage

Action: Standard action. A creature can take this action only once per encounter.

As the Rules Compendium was printed well after the Dungeon Master's Guide, the RC should take precendence. Interestingly, the DDI is still using the older, confusing version of the Bluff skill (Dated from 2008). I assume that is an oversight on their part and I would continue to use the RC version of Bluff. However, it does leave room for an enterprising player to try to convince their DM otherwise unfortunately!

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Wouldn't it mean that you could only flank and get CA once per encounter? Or, if we go to "specific trumps general", then flanking and bluffing could both be trumping this rule. –  Adriano Varoli Piazza Jan 18 '11 at 14:01
1  
Er, can you expand the scope of the paste? –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jan 18 '11 at 14:11
    
Ok, no, it wouldn't touch flanking because it's caused by a move action, not a separate standard action. –  Adriano Varoli Piazza Jan 18 '11 at 14:15
    
@Adriano - sorry to confuse you. My answer, and the RC quote deals only with the Bluff skill which may be used 1/encounter. Flanking is entirely separate and is not limited to once/encounter –  Pat Ludwig Jan 18 '11 at 14:59
    
Thanks for your answer. You also made it click that I had confused the RC and the DMB. I corrected the question. –  Adriano Varoli Piazza Jan 18 '11 at 15:04

Reading it as written it seems to be only once per encounter, regardless of the number of different targets you attempt it against.

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I think the wording is ambiguous, and could be argued either way. I'd be tempted to say that the wording leans toward "once per encounter, total," but I think it makes more sense to say it's once per encounter per target. That is: you're fighting against Meepo and you feint and confuse him, but he won't fall for it again. He ally, though, isn't yet wise to you, and might.

I like to get my players to tell me specifically what they're doing to get that Bluff roll, so I'd probably decide based on that description.

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Actually, you can use Bluff to gain combat advantage twice per encounter: Once as a feint and once through Create a Diversion to Hide, though you'll still need to pass the stealth roll.

Relevant text from Rules Compendium:

Action: Standard action. A creature can take this action only once per encounter.

This line appears in both the feinting and diversion descriptions under bluff.

As a wrinkle, the Hidden status from a Bluff is precarious at best, likened to hiding behind a guy that's looking for you. This isn't the same as using the Stealth skill to hide, even if it involves a Stealth check. Again from the Rules Compendium:

the creature becomes hidden from that target until the end of the current turn or until immediately after the hidden creature makes an attack.

I'm unsure as to whether you'll need to spend an action point to fit in something useful with the CA that turn or if you can wait until the next turn to commence walloping.

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I added a sentence to your answer about how Stealth relates to Create a Diversion to Hide, but now I'm not so sure. I've asked a question about that relationship here. –  doppelgreener Dec 28 '13 at 16:42

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