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Cleaving Smash (from Weapon Trick - Two-Handed Weapon):

When you use Cleave, you can add the additional damage from Vital Strike to both your initial and your secondary attacks. If you also have the Greater Vital Strike feat, you can instead add the damage from Improved Vital Strike to both your initial and your secondary attacks.

Furious Finish:

While raging, when you use the Vital Strike feat, you can choose not to roll your damage dice and instead deal damage equal to the maximum roll possible on those damage dice. If you do, your rage immediately ends, and you are fatigued (even if you would not normally be).

Does Furious Finish apply to both hits of Cleaving Smash, or does rage suddenly end mid-swing?

Or are they not compatible at all since Cleaving Smash doesn't directly state that you're actually using the Vital Strike "feat", only that you're getting all the benefits of it?

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They aren't compatible

This FAQ entry, in part, says, "Vital Strike can only be used as part of an attack action, which is a specific kind of standard action." The feat Cleave, in part, says, "As a standard action, you can make a single attack at your full base attack bonus against a foe within reach." Thus when creature opts to use the Cleave feat, normally the same creature literally can't simultaneously use the Vital Strike feat or, for that matter, vice versa. Employing either requires a separate and unique standard action.

So when the weapon trick Cleaving Smash says, "When you use Cleave, you can add the additional damage from Vital Strike to both your initial and your secondary attacks," the creature isn't using the feat Vital Strike so the feat Furious Finish both doesn't care and can't be used.

In short, the weapon trick Cleaving Smash grants a creature that takes a standard action to use the Cleave feat slightly increased damage due to the creature having the feat Vital Strike et al. written on its character sheet—rather than due to the creature actually using the feat Vital Strike—therefore preventing the creature from also using the feat Furious Focus.


Note: This reader suggests that the weapon trick Cleaving Smash probably not be viewed as a good reason to take the Vital Strike feat chain. The chain is seen by some fans—including me—as a trap. (As to why, you can probably just pick a question from this list.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I figured that's probably how it would work. Just another fun thing martials can't do. Also I wasn't looking to take Vital Strike because of Cleaving Smash, I was looking to take Cleaving Smash because of a combination of Improved Vital Strike, Furious Finish, and non-Oracle early rage cycling. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2021 at 23:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Suggestions for improvement welcome. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 12:38

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