A Tome of Battle stance can be initiated as a swift action, and "remains in effect indefinitely...until you change to another stance you know as a swift action." (p. 38)

If a character gained and initiated a stance via the Martial Stance feat (qualified for using the Martial Study feat), then used Player's Handbook II retraining rules so they no longer had those feats, is there anything preventing them from remaining in that stance for the rest of their adventuring career?

This question mentions the possibility of "remembering" maneuvers gained through Martial Study, but for some reason--maybe the answer is obvious because there's somewhere in Tome of Battle that clearly states you can't do this--the post doesn't say anything about stances.


1 Answer 1


The linked question is wrong. When Player’s Handbook II states that you lose a feat, it means you lose every benefit you’ve gotten from that feat (aside from like, XP and items you gained as a result of adventuring with that feat). The whole point of the retraining rules is to allow you to make different choices that you could have made to begin with—not to enable new options where you can keep your cake and eat it too.

No single, simple, ruleset is ever going to cover every possibility in a game as large and as complex as 3.5e, and Player’s Handbook II doesn’t even try. Instead, it leverages one of the greatest assets D&D has: that it is run by a thinking human being. The DM is required to handle the retraining from start to finish, and that includes making judgments about what losing one thing and gaining another really means. But the overall guiding star for that process is the idea that the PC ends up in just the same position they would have if they had simply made their new choices the first time. This is not always straightforward—and may sometimes be impossible, or more damaging to the campaign than it’s worth—but that is the stated goal.

That being the case, pretending that you “can’t” undo events that occurred at the time the original feat was taken is, bluntly, against the rules: that does not achieve the stated goal of the retraining. The rules instruct the DM to go beyond that, and, for example, remove things learned by taking the feat. That the retraining rules don’t explicitly spell this out is irrelevant—because they explicitly tell the DM to figure this out.

I am generally in favor of being precise and accurate with the rules. I am entirely comfortable with rules lawyering. But this isn’t that—this isn’t strictly applying the rules, it’s selectively picking some rules to take over-literally while outright ignoring others. If you want to make a case on a technicality, then you have to handle every other technicality that might be involved; you don’t get to ignore some because they get in the way of what you want.

So the too long, didn’t read here is, Player’s Handbook II does not support any kind of gaming of the retraining rules to get extra benefit, and calls on the DM to make sure none happens. In this case, that means the PC loses knowledge of the stance when they retain Martial Stance, and when they lose knowledge of the stance, the stance ends for them. Any other ruling is inconsistent with the rules of retraining and therefore invalid.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I know that you've already made a case that this fails outright on the attempt, but in addition there's also this: "Your stance ends if you are rendered helpless for any reason" (Tome of Battle 43). \$\endgroup\$ Jul 17, 2021 at 14:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I was surprised not to see a line like that in the question, since I felt sure there was, but chalked it up to nigh-universal houserule. Glad to see they didn’t miss it—but as you say, I don’t think it’s actually relevant here. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jul 17, 2021 at 14:33

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