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It seems like a trap to me.

Moving your speed as a move action is great, however it takes another swift action to activate this ability, and you only got one of those per round.

In my experience* encounters do not involve much running around after the first round. So you can't use it when you would need it most, to close up with the enemy initially.
It is good if you can start it in advance, but it lasts just one minute.

Starting it at the entrance of the dungeon is too early, starting it when you see the enemy is too late.

What am I missing?


*) Based on 4e and 5e, not 3.x

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    \$\begingroup\$ How do you reckon it is popular? \$\endgroup\$
    – kviiri
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 17:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @kviiri I see it in many 3.5 guides as recommended, but the question should be answerable regardless. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 17:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @kviiri A quick search of [dnd-3.5e] travel devotion on this very site yields tons and tons of posts recommending it. I don’t know the best way for András to back up his assertion here that Travel Devotion is popular, but is absolutely is popular, they’re not wrong about that at all. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 18:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Questions often don't need to back up their assertions. Either they're true and experts recognise that, or they're false and experts recognise that, and either way the experts then tackle it in answers. (When an assertion confuses experts and makes it unclear what the question actually is, that's when we need askers to explain more.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 19:08

1 Answer 1

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In my experience, the consensus is that you move during the same swift action you use to “turn on” Travel Devotion in the first place, so you move as a swift action that round and any other round thereafter for the next minute. If you have to spend a swift action on the first turn to start it, and only get to move as a swift action on the following rounds, then yes, Travel Devotion is extremely limited and not worth the effort of obtaining and powering it.

The actual wording of Travel Devotion does support having the activation require one swift action, and actual moving thereafter require more swift actions (i.e. only on later turns unless you are a ruby knight vindicator), but this is generally deemed counter-intuitive and unexpected, and more due to awkward wording choices than an intended effect.

And while Travel Devotion is, from one perspective, an extremely powerful feat—every non-Tome of Battle melee character ever will want to have either it or pounce, which is extremely centralizing—at the same time it goes a long way to improving the lives of melee characters, who were previously completely shafted. Thanks to Travel Devotion and the lion spirit totem ACF for barbarians (which grants a very efficient source of pounce, as an alternative to Travel Devotion), Complete Champion is treated as a kind of stealth “patch” to melee combat (and Tome of Battle a not-so-stealthy patch).

This is another reason why Travel Devotion is run this way: if you were to require Travel Devotion to be turned on separately from moving, it would simply never be worth bothering with. If you have Complete Champion available for Travel Devotion, you also have it available for the lion spirit totem. The lion spirit totem is already more convenient for many characters: it doesn’t require extra fuel, and barbarian’s BAB, HD, and rage are more relevant to many melee characters than what cleric has to offer. Barbarian is also arguably easier to fit into a character build than cleric from a fluff perspective, if that is being enforced as well. So ultimately, ruling Travel Devotion requires set-up time would just mean that Travel Devotion is no longer a viable substitute for lion spirit totem. Cleric dips become less popular, but still fairly popular since they can do plenty of other things.

Anyway, the swift-action movement is valuable because it allows you to full-attack even if your initial position does not put you in range of anything to attack. Getting a full-attack instead of a single attack may improve your damage potential several times over—to the point that making the single attack action available when you move with your move action often not worth bothering with. It can actually be harmful—moving in to attack once leaves you with an enemy still alive, but you in range of their full-attack.

The other thing to keep in mind is that most martial characters will kill a target they can full-attack. The next round may very well require movement in order to attack the next one. Defense in 3.5e comes down more to positioning and interruptions (attacks of opportunity or immediate actions) than it does standing there and taking it. So the concept of a back-and-forth slugfest doesn’t really apply in a lot of cases.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the point about Full Attack is the main difference with 5e. In 5e you can move and still unleash all your Extra Attacks as part of the same turn, whereas in 3e and 3.5e the "regular" turn is either Move + Attack as a combo, or just Full Attack. And as you noted, the difference between 1 attack and 4 attacks is... 4x. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 23, 2018 at 11:22

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