The Feat Battle Cry reads

When you roll initiative, you can yell a mighty battle cry and Demoralize an observed foe as a free action. If you’re legendary in Intimidation, you can use a reaction to Demoralize your foe when you critically succeed at an attack roll.

There are similar abilities, such as Hobgoblin Generals' General's Cry.

Do effects like this occur before or after initiative is rolled; specifically, does this (potentially) affect the target's Initiative roll?


Battle Cry happens after initiative is rolled

Battle Cry allows a Demoralize check as a Free Action with the following trigger:

When you roll initiative

Per the Free Action rules, a Free Action with a trigger acts like a Reaction:

A free action might have a trigger like a reaction does. If so, you can use it just like a reaction—even if it’s not your turn.

And Reactions specify their default timing:

you can use it only when its specific trigger is fulfilled

The trigger, in this case, is the Battle Crier rolling initiative, which takes place as Step 1 of Combat. Step 1 has everyone roll initiative concurrently (there is no mentioned ordering), so the condition of Battle Cry would not be fulfilled until after initiative is rolled for everyone.

TL;DR: because initiatives are rolled at the same time, and triggered actions happen after the action that triggered them, Battle Cry happens after initiative.

Obviously, this can be done differently by your GM, so check with them.

  • \$\begingroup\$ How does this interact with Attack of Opportunity being able to interrupt actions on a critical hit? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Feb 17 at 19:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that AoO is simply an exception to the rule; for two of its triggers (ranged attack, leaving a square) it follows these rules normally. One could argue that the interrupt is really taking place after the action, since the action is still spent, but negates the effects of the action retroactively. Regardless it seems like an exception to the rule here. \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Feb 17 at 21:24

It happens after Initiative is rolled ...

Battle Cry, General's Cry, and similar abilities allow you to demoralize someone. The important link between demoralize and initiative is that demoralize inflicts the Frightened condition, which in part says:

"You take a status penalty equal to [the Frightened] value to all your checks and DCs. "

Does Frightened influence an initiative role? If you used a check as part of your initiative, then yes.

As covered in this answer to a related question, initiative is a step in the encounter process. Initiative is not a check, although we often use checks to determine initiative. If you use check (such as Perception check) to determine your initiative, then you should include the Frightened penalty.

... but ask your GM.

But what about timing? The text of Battle Cry says it happens when you roll initiative. Does the timing of Battle Cry allow it to affect co-occurring initiative rolls?

Maybe. Ask your GM.

The structure an encounter says that the first step of an encounter is rolling initiative. There is no process which controls the order that initiative is rolled.

One interpretation is that all initiatives happen at the same time. So an effect like Battle Cry would be expected to decrease initiative. This is how initiative is handled at the tables I have been at, though I have never seen someone use Frightened in this way. A second interpretation could be that once someone declares their initiative it is "locked in" and can't be changed. To be sure, ask your GM.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ It's considered a Perception (or other) check in the rules here. "Unlike a typical check, where the result is compared to a DC, the results of initiative rolls are ranked." \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Feb 8 at 1:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso The rules on checks are pretty clear about what is and isn't a check. Initiative isn't one. Given that, it's easy to see why initiative isn't a typical check - because it isn't a check at all! \$\endgroup\$ Feb 8 at 1:42
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ "Unlike a typical check" literally means "This is a check with this/these alterations". We'll see if other answers address it differently \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Feb 8 at 1:49
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Just my two cents: either of you could ask a new question along the lines of "Is Initiative a check?" which would hopefully see some answers \$\endgroup\$ Feb 8 at 3:17
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Posted \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Feb 8 at 4:38

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