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Awesome Blow (Ex)

At 16th level, the brawler can as a standard action perform an awesome blow combat maneuver against a corporeal creature of her size or smaller. If the combat maneuver check succeeds, the opponent takes damage as if the brawler hit it with the close weapon she is wielding or an unarmed strike, it is knocked flying 10 feet in a direction of the brawler’s choice, and it falls prone...

Does an Awesome Blow count as an attack for the purpose of feats and effects? For example:

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Yes. Combat Maneuvers rolls are attack rolls, as stated in the Performing a Combat Maneuver portion of the link.

However, depending on the Feat, it must be an Attack Action or a Full Attack Action. For it to work with those, you should ideally use the Improved Awesome Blow, which transforms it into an attack instead of a combat maneuver.

  • For Feats like Stunning Blow, which state that "You must declare that you are using this feat before you make your attack roll", my understanding is that it should work for any Combat Maneuver, since they are special cases of attack rolls.
  • For Feats that specifically required an attack (or an attack action), a Combat Maneuver is not enough, as they are not the same. This is made clear in the Full-Round Actions FAQ, where it says: "Any combination of a creature’s attacks during a melee full attack can be replaced by a trip, disarm, or sunder maneuver (any maneuver that says “in place of a melee attack”)". In this case, since the Awesome Blow is a combat maneuver that doesn't have "in place of a melee attack" in its description, it could not be part of a Full-Attack Action, but an Improved Awesome Blow could.

Regarding the Shield of Dawn: it says that when hit with a melee attack X happens. Melee attacks are not action themselves, but more of a "tag" to identify a range (No direct link to this, but it is right above the Table: Actions in Combat). Even if it is not an attack action, but a combat maneuver, I would argue that it should be treated as a "melee attack" in this case, since it causes damage in melee range by physically touching. Same would be true for a Cleave (which is a Standard Action to perform an attack, but not an Attack Action) or a melee touch spell.

Lastly, another scenario that would make this difference important is applying a Vital Strike or similar to an Awesome Blow, for example. Vital strike applies "When you use the attack action", making it unusable without Improved Awesome Blow, but OK when you get it at level 20.

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Only with Improved Awesome Blow

There's a lot of confusing language in the manual for this one. Most importantly, these three concepts are something different:

  1. Attack (action): This is an action you can take, normally as a standard action. If you have a BAB of 6 or higher, you may make multiple attacks as a Full Attack. There are 2 Combat Maneuvers (Sunder and Trip), which say "in place of a melee attack". These can be made as part of an attack action, but they are not attacks, as they are in place of an attack.
  2. Attack Roll: An attack roll is part of the attack action, or of other actions that specify they use it. Some things may require an attack roll without being an attack action. Examples include spells like Scorching Ray(which requires a Ranged Touch Attack), or actions like combat maneuvers.

Stunning Fist

You must declare that you are using this feat before you make your attack roll (thus, a failed attack roll ruins the attempt). Stunning Fist forces a foe damaged by your unarmed attack to make a Fortitude saving throw (DC 10 + 1/2 your character level + your Wis modifier), in addition to dealing damage normally.

Stunning First refers to both an attack roll, and your "unarmed attack". Combat maneuvers aren't attacks unless they say so. Improved Awesome Blow says "the brawler can use her awesome blow ability as an attack rather than as a standard action." This makes it an attack, and therefore Stunning Fist can be used in conjunction. Normal Awesome Blow never mentions anything, and therefore, does not allow Stunning Fist.

In similar vein, Pummeling Style and Combat Rhythm would function with Improved Awesome Blow only.

Similarly, Shield of Dawn would damage you, but that could be avoided by spending a Standard Action instead of an attack. ("...the brawler can use...", so no obligation to do so.)

Rules as Written vs Rules as Interpreted

Personally, I consider this an oversight in the rules. It think they intended to have Improved Awesome Blow replace the attack action. If interpreted that way, none of these feats would function with Improved Awesome Blow.

That would bring it in line with Trip and Sunder, which use "in place of a melee attack", instead of "as an attack".

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