The Intimidate skill allows a character to use the Demoralize Opponent action in combat, which says (emphasis mine):

You can also use Intimidate to weaken an opponent’s resolve in combat. To do so, make an Intimidate check opposed by the target’s modified level check (see above). If you win, the target becomes shaken for 1 round. A shaken character takes a -2 penalty on attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws. You can intimidate only an opponent that you threaten in melee combat and that can see you.

A straightforward reading of the above suggests that you can avoid being demoralized by closing your eyes. No rules for doing so are laid out in the description of the Intimidate skill, but the SRD's section on gaze attacks does have rules for averting or closing your eyes to avoid ill effects:

An opponent can avert his eyes from the creature’s face, looking at the creature’s body, watching its shadow, or tracking the creature in a reflective surface. Each round, the opponent has a 50% chance of not having to make a saving throw. The creature with the gaze attack gains concealment relative to the opponent. An opponent can shut his eyes, turn his back on the creature, or wear a blindfold. In these cases, the opponent does not need to make a saving throw. The creature with the gaze attack gains total concealment relative to the opponent.

However, these rules are a bit vague, leaving me with questions about how closing your eyes would work against the Demoralize Opponent action:

  1. Does this strategy work at all? Can you, in fact, protect yourself from being intimidated by closing your eyes?
  2. What type of action is it to close or open your eyes?
  3. Can you open your eyes at the beginning of each of your turns and close them at the end of each of your turns, rendering yourself immune to intimidation during your opponent's turn but avoiding the miss chance for blindness during your own turns?

This question was inspired by an old arena match in which my opponent used this strategy, which was ruled to work at the time, but the ruling was pretty spur-of-the-moment, so I'm curious what the stack thinks.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I can relate to this question title in several different ways... \$\endgroup\$
    – Icyfire
    May 24, 2017 at 2:53

1 Answer 1


Yes it works

If you can't see the opponent, he can't demoralize you. It's kinda dumb, but that's how the rules are (kinda poorly) worded. Ruling otherwise would be a houserule, whether or not I agree with it. (Guess my position.)

So blinding himself would negate the demoralization attack.

How it works follows:

This is harder than it looks...

There's no RAW that explicitly states the actions required to close your eyes, but it can be partly extrapolated from the gaze attack sections, both of them, thus.

For gaze attacks, a creature makes a save on its turn, right at the start of its initiative, as well as if the gazer uses a standard action on its own turn to target the creature. Averting eyes doesn't help in this instance since the target can still see the intimidator, though not as well, but folds in with closing ones eyes for actions that can be taken.

No action is given to avert or stop averting gaze, or to open or close eyes, it merely affects concealment level. Thus it's either a free action (which by default may be only performed on the character's own turn) or 'not an action' (turning your head and not turning it back, or blinking and not un-blinking), but even 'not an actions' are not doable when it's not your turn, unless they're part of another action that you can be taking when it's not your turn. I'm going to say that it's 'not an action', because you can apparently do so before you're subject to a gaze attack at the start of your initiative count.

In the case of gaze attacks, averting or closing eyes must be continued throughout the entire turn in order to reduce or eliminate the need for saves against the gaze. If a creature only averted gaze or closed its eyes on its own turn, besides meta-gaming the system a bit, it'd still be subject to a focused gaze attack on the gazer's turn.

So it's 'not an action' action to close or open your eyes (or avert your gaze or stop doing so), which may be performed at any point of your turn.

Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so

~Douglas Adams

The game intends to simulate reality to a very limited extent, and turns are an abstraction made so that each creature gets to show what it's doing in a 'fair' manner. The demoralizing attacker is actually attempting its attack when the defender is performing its action. That said, the rules don't specify that, unless they have the same initiative count and modifier, so one actually does go first. Technically you can close your eyes after attacking and then blind yourself at the end of your turn, then open your eyes again when it's your initiative again, repeating throughout the combat...

(this is my final answer)

but as DM I wouldn't let you.

For eliminating the risk of being demoralized by closing your eyes when it's not your turn, you'd pay the fairly hefty price of being blinded when it's not your turn too. But metagaming the turns system is even too much for a munchkin like me to accept. I would require your eyes to stay shut for the entire round to avoid being affected by a gaze attack, or being demoralized.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd agree that "metagaming the turns system" is something that I would NOT allow but yes the RAW seems to point toward your answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vethor
    May 24, 2017 at 4:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ When I DM I've let PCs do exactly that—open their eyes on their turns and close them at the ends of their turns—, but when dealing with creatures with gaze attacks rather than demoralmonsters. The penalties for being blinded are so severe that it works out to be mechanically even, especially since a creature that really wants to actively gaze (or demoralize) can just ready an action. \$\endgroup\$ May 24, 2017 at 7:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Yeah I can see your point, but it's so... granular. It's a bit like sand in... Anyway, it's usable RAW, and not actually broken. I just would rule it my way, obv. Plus, it's a bit simpler on when to use which modifiers. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chemus
    May 24, 2017 at 8:03

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .