When I make a full attack, can I choose to not activate the benefit of the Power Attack feat for the first attack, and then activate it on subsequent attacks? In other words, can I make an attack choosing to not Power Attack, and then activate Power Attack to have all subsequent attacks be power attacks?

The Power Attack feat says:

You can choose to take a –1 penalty on all melee attack rolls and combat maneuver checks to gain a +2 bonus on all melee damage rolls. This bonus to damage is increased by half (+50%) if you are making an attack with a two-handed weapon, a one handed weapon using two hands, or a primary natural weapon that adds 1-1/2 times your Strength modifier on damage rolls. This bonus to damage is halved (–50%) if you are making an attack with an off-hand weapon or secondary natural weapon.


You must choose to use this feat before making an attack roll, and its effects last until your next turn.

It doesn't specify you have to choose to use the feat before your first attack roll - just "an attack roll" in general.

  • \$\begingroup\$ A side note. Consider houseruling you may decide on each attack. I played like this several times using both PF and 3.5 rulessets and it never caused problems. Helps non-casters a bit. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 16, 2019 at 3:27
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @annoyingimp An expanded version of that would make a good answer. "No, but houserulling it is fine because.... etc.." You have actual play experience and that is sufficient support for houserule answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Apr 16, 2019 at 5:51

2 Answers 2


Yes, you can

When asked if you could activate Power Attack during an attack of opportunity, Sean K. Reynolds (developer back then), said this:

I can't find anything in the rules that says you have to activate PA before your first attack of your turn, or on your turn at all. Thus, you could activate it between your primary attack and your offhand, or your primary and your 1st iterative, or between your last iterative and an AOO. All are valid options. Some are poor choices, but they are still valid choices.

While he is no longer a developer at Paizo, this message is still used everytime a question rises up about when you may activate an ability with a wording similar to Power Attack.


"... all melee attack rolls ..." means all melee attack rolls. The first roll of a full attack is part of all melee attack rolls if it is a melee attack.

In the last sentence, the indefinite article ‘an’ is being used to indicate the first in a sequence, synonymous with ‘the first’.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Me thinks you misunderstood the question I'll edit it \$\endgroup\$
    – ninjahX
    Apr 16, 2019 at 2:42

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