Can you revert to using base attack roll stats (i.e. Strength for calculating melee attack rolls) if you have a feat that lets you use a different stat, or does taking the feat permanently switch you over to the new stat?

For example if you take a Intuitive Attack, which lets you use Wisdom for attack rolls instead of Strength, but then use the Strength domain power to raise your Strength bonus higher than your Wisdom bonus, can you use the Strength bonus on your next attack roll instead of Wisdom, or was it wasted?

Another example is the Weapon Finesse feat, which allows you to use the Dexterity modifier for attack rolls instead of strength. Can you choose to use your Strength bonus instead?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm no 3.5 expert, but if you could possibly quote the feat in question it might help get some answers. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 19:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Gave an example relevant to the character build that made me ask that question; I noticed the description for that feat says you "may" use your Wisdom modifier instead of Strength for attack rolls, but it doesn't necessarily say you "must". I just wanted to see what everyone else says about that sort of thing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cobalt
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 19:53

3 Answers 3


Either the text will say that the feat/ability uses a certain ability score, or it will say that you 'may' substitute your normal score with a different one. Therefore, some feats/abilities will only allow one score, while others let you decide.

This is because the 'standard' score is the one you use when you make a 'standard' attack - different feats use a different score since, per fluff, different stats are used in the action.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Cool, that's clear now. And I know that you know that I know.. uh. That we're all on the same page and system. :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 21:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I know that you know that I know that you know... :) I'm going to tidy my comments away now \$\endgroup\$
    – Dakeyras
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 21:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK then, good to know that the Strength Domain won't be wasted on my Wis-based cleric/monk. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cobalt
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 22:02

It depends on how the feat/ability is written. "Intuitive Attack" from the Book of Exalted Deeds states that you "may" substitute your Wisdom modifier, which means you don't have to.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Weapon Finesse, the go-to attack-stat-switching feat is written the same way: you MAY, but don't have to. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jeff
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 21:21

Usually in 3.5e the language used is specific - 'May' means you can choose, and 'you use' or 'you must' or 'use your Strength modifier to' etc means you have no choice in the matter.

If the wording said 'may', such as in Intuitive Attack, you can even switch it up with different attacks in your attack routine, if for some reason you felt that was relevant.

If you're interested in understanding the RAW of some annoying abilities, these key words and they way they are consistently used in 3.5 are useful.


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