This might seem like an odd question. Ordinarily, you can't take any actions before your first turn. However, I can think of at least two ways that you can take an immediate action while flat-footed: Nerveskitter (Spell Compendium) and Ferocity (Cityscape web enhancement).

I am planning to play a barbarian with Ferocity specializing in area control. Uncanny dodge means that I don't have to worry about Dexterity to AC when flat-footed, but it is very important that I know whether I am entitled to take attacks of opportunity before my turn if I have already acted to activate Ferocity.

The SRD says:

A character who has not yet acted during a combat is flat-footed, not yet reacting normally to the situation. A flat-footed character loses his Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) and cannot make attacks of opportunity.

But the glossary says:

Especially vulnerable to attacks at the beginning of a battle. Characters are flat-footed until their first turns in the initiative cycle. A flat-footed creature loses its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (if any) and cannot make attacks of opportunity.

The glossary cites the Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide, but does not give a page reference.

I can think of three possible interpretations:

  1. The SRD is wrong (differs from the books). The barbarian is flat-footed.
  2. The glossary is wrong. The barbarian is not flat-footed.
  3. Both are correct – taking an immediate action does not constitute "acting".

Of the three, interpretation #2 seems the most likely. Is there any other source or precedent that might shed light on this?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Summaries of Nerveskitter and Ferocity would help. \$\endgroup\$
    – okeefe
    Apr 29, 2014 at 15:27
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @okeefe I added a link to the web enhancement that contains Ferocity, at least. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 29, 2014 at 15:31
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Is this so the character can avoid taking the feat Combat Reflexes (PH 92) and avoid wearing serpent armor (MIC 20-21) (12,160 gp; 15 lbs.)? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 29, 2014 at 16:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ You know, in all my years of playing, I never realized that Combat Reflexes let you take AoOs while flat-footed. That's sort of embarrassing. I guess that renders the question moot in this particular case (the character does have Combat Reflexes), although I'm still glad to have a good answer to it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Thom Smith
    Apr 29, 2014 at 16:56

1 Answer 1


The Barbarian is Flat Footed

Under the initiative rules, the SRD says this (emphasis mine, also in PHB on page 137):

At the start of a battle, before you have had a chance to act (specifically, before your first regular turn in the initiative order), you are flat-footed. You can’t use your Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) while flat-footed. Barbarians and rogues have the uncanny dodge extraordinary ability, which allows them to avoid losing their Dexterity bonus to AC due to being flat-footed.

Nerveskitter says this:

You cast this spell when you and your party roll for initiative. Unlike other immediate actions, you can cast this spell while flat-footed. You enhance the subject's reactions in combat, granting it a +5 bonus on its initiative check for the current encounter. If the subject does not make an initiative check within 1 round, this spell has no effect.

Ferocity says this:

He can enter this state as an immediate action, even when flat-footed at the start of combat, so he may apply the enhanced Dexterity modifier to his initiative check.

Both of these abilities let you act as an immediate action even while flat footed, before your regular turn in the initiative order. Neither are your regular action in the initiative order, as they're letting you act out of turn. Thus, neither of them prevent you from being flat footed just by using them.

They might prevent you from being flat footed by making your initiative high enough that you get to act first in the normal order, of course.


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