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The description for the defender magic sword mentions the following benefit (emphasis mine):

You gain a +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon.

The first time you attack with the sword on each of your turns, you can transfer some or all of the sword's bonus to your Armor Class, instead of using the bonus on any attacks that turn. For example, you could reduce the bonus to your attack and damage rolls to +1 and gain a +2 bonus to AC. The adjusted bonuses remain in effect until the start of your next turn, although you must hold the sword to gain a bonus to AC from it.

The description states that I can transfer a portion of the attack roll modifier to my AC "the first time I attack".

So if I'm a character that can make two attacks in 1 turn, does that mean I can choose to transfer a portion of the attack modifier just after my first attack? Or is it just before my first attack?

It sounds to me like I get the attack bonus for the first attack of my turn, and then if I want to do the transfer, I can activate it just after that first attack, but the transfer is not allowed any other time.

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You get the reduced bonus already on the first attack.

The answer is in the description:

instead of using the bonus on any attacks that turn.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This takes place when you declare your attack, prior to rolling any dice. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 28, 2021 at 15:56
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Its intent is to give +3 divided between attack and defense with no double-dipping. It's a simple idea, but it can have some wrinkles which is why they've chosen to write it as they have, using "the first time you attack." Absent this, the following questions would arise:

  • When can you choose? At the start of the round seems fine, but on your turn is better. Now you can't pick +3AC when surprised. And it's easier in general to decide things on your turn.

  • What if I want to move, see how that works, and then decide? OK, fair enough. You don't have to choose at the start of your turn, only before your first attack.

  • Can I hand it to the wizard for a +3AC? Hmmm... that seems like a loophole. OK, instead of choosing before you attack, you choose when you make the 1st attack. That way it's useless unless you're using it to fight.

  • Can I attack a bird the first thing in the morning for a +3AC all day? That seems wrong. We'll make the AC bonus only last for 1 round.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You choose "The first time you attack with your sword on each of your turns," not at the start of the round or the start of your turn. And the effect only lasts that turn: "...you can transfer some or all of the sword's bonus to your Armor Class, instead of using the bonus on any attacks that turn." So all of your "wrinkles" aren't wrinkles at all. \$\endgroup\$
    – gto
    Apr 26, 2021 at 1:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @gto Those are wrinkles in the simpler ways of writing rules for it. If you read the first para again, don't you think it says that? How would you clarify it? I'm saying "sure, this rules seems weird, but take a look at the ones that seem more normal -- they all have problems".. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 26, 2021 at 4:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, I see. I have edited your opening paragraph in an attempt to make it express more clearly what I now believe was your intent. \$\endgroup\$
    – gto
    Apr 26, 2021 at 6:42

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