A friend and myself were having a discussion and we had a small disagreement about a rule. He says that if he has a high base attack bonus, say 20/15/10/5, and has a special ability that is activated as a standard action that he can use it 4 times on his round similarly to a full attack action. My argument is that the high base attack bonus only applies to attacks. He says that since a single attack is a standard action the 4 attacks can be replaced by standard actions.

More specifically he says that his god character can use the Hand of Death salient divine power 5 times in a round, 4 for base attack bonus and 1 for haste.

Which one of us is right?


2 Answers 2


The short answer is that you are right. In your turn you may make 1 standard action and a move action, or a full round action, along with one or more free actions - source

A single attack is a standard action, as is using an ability. When used as such you get a single standard action, plus a move. That means you can only use your ability once per round (certain abilities may have limits on number of times per day or length between uses) - source

When using your BAB to get more than one attack, you don't get as many standard actions as you have attacks in your BAB, but take a full round action. This is the same if you get multiple attacks from BAB, or whether it's from a haste spell, or from a double weapon, such as a quarter-staff. Other abilities that specifically say 1 round for time it takes to complete, rather than standard, also use a full round action. - source

TLDR; Your BAB only counts for a full round action, it doesn't give you many standard actions.


You are right.

A high BAB does not grant additional standard actions in a combat round.

The logical error he (perhaps understandably) makes is that he assumes that it being possible to take an attack as a standard action implies that you can take a standard action in place of an attack (or "attack action" as the term is sometimes used). But it doesn't.

Carefully reading over the Actions in Combat section will reveal this (and is a good exercise in general). There is no defined way to convert a bonus attack into a standard action. Instead, the issue is handled by defining the ways a character can make attacks, and those ways include taking a standard action (which grants one) and taking a full-round action (which may grant many).

Finally, for the specific example of the Hand of Death - that ability defaults to a standard action and thus can not be used multiple times in a round by virtue of having a high BAB.


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