The factotum class gains brains over brawns. Does this apply to initiative? To attack rolls?


1 Answer 1


Brains Over Brawn says this:

At 3rd level, you gain your Intelligence bonus as a modifier on Strength checks, Dexterity checks, and checks involving skills based on Strength or Dexterity, such as Hide, Climb, and Jump.

So we have four qualifying categories:

  • Strength ability checks

  • Dexterity ability checks

  • Skill checks for Strength-based skills

  • Skill checks for Dexterity-based skills

If a check is one of these four things, Brains Over Brawn applies; if not, it doesn’t. Therefore:

d20SRD > Combat > Initiative

At the start of a battle, each combatant makes an initiative check. An initiative check is a Dexterity check. Each character...

An initiative check is a Dexterity check, and therefore benefits from Brains Over Brawn. The factotum adds his Intelligence bonus to initiative checks (in addition to his Dexterity bonus and any other bonus that might apply, e.g. Improved Initiative).

d20SRD > Combat > Attack Roll

An attack roll represents your attempt to strike your opponent on your turn in a round. When you make an attack roll, you roll a d20 and add your attack bonus. (Other modifiers may also apply to this roll.) If your result equals or beats the target’s Armor Class, you hit and deal damage.

This says nothing about attack rolls being checks of any kind, much less specifically one of those listed in Brains Over Brawn. Skill checks involve a bonus equal to the ranks bought with skill points in the skill; that clearly doesn’t apply to attack rolls. And attack rolls include base attack bonus; you don’t add that to any ability check. An attack roll is, in fact, its own, separate thing. Since it is not any of the four things that Brains Over Brawn applies to, it gets no benefit from that class feature.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you: your answer was clear and to the point. I also found the related question helpful in answering a question I hadn't gotten to yet. Could you think of any roll that would or would not be modified by this ability that would be easily misunderstood? \$\endgroup\$
    – Levi
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 20:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Levi Anything like initiative that states that it “is a” qualifying check of some kind is liable to get missed, but initiative is the only significant check of that sort I can think of off the top of my head. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 20:09
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Levi FWIW, bull rush, overrun, and trip attempts you initiate are opposed Strength checks, allowing a smart factotum to feight train, stomp over, and toss to the floor baddies. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 20:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ (and here we see me proven wrong within 5 minutes! Thanks @HeyICanChan) \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 20:16
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Levi For What It’s Worth \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 4:08

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