The feat Undermountain Tactics allows the use of the tactical maneuver stair king, which says

To use this maneuver, you must gain the high ground bonus on your attacks against an opponent. If you hit your foe with two or more melee attacks during your turn, he must make a Balance check (DC 10 + your Str modifier) or be knocked prone. Your opponent can opt to succeed automatically on his Balance check. If he does so, he will lose his move action on his next turn, but he will succeed automatically on Balance checks to resist this maneuver until the start of his next turn. Your opponent must make this choice before seeing the result of his Balance check. You can target a particular creature with this maneuver once per round. (Dungeonscape 46)

Emphasis mine. After opting to succeed automatically on the Balance skill check, what actions can a creature take on its next turn having lost its move action? For example, on its turn can the creature that opts to succeed automatically on the Balance skill check still take the full attack or withdraw actions? For example, having only lost the first move action due to opting to succeed automatically on the Balance skill check, on its turn can the creature still take its second move action?

The feat is rarely mentioned in optimization circles, and there is no Dungeonscape errata. (But, O, would that there were!) If it matters, I'm looking at the feat Undermountain Tactics for a mounted combatant—the attack bonus from high ground is gained by the rider against defenders on foot that are littler than the rider's mount. (Further, although shadier and likely worth its own question, because the rider shares the entirety of the mount's space, a rider with a significant mount should be able to employ the tactical maneuver door sentinel for much larger quantities of door.)

I've tagged this because that's preferred—perhaps such an answer can be teased from an effect using similar language elsewhere in the game—, but I understand this might be impossible. If it is, careful analysis, tabletop experience, or speculation is acceptable.


1 Answer 1


Starting from the beginning:

Action Types

In a normal round, you can perform a standard action and a move action, or you can perform a full-round action. You can also perform one or more free actions. You can always take a move action in place of a standard action.

A creature without a Move Action is thus left with its Standard Action and Free Actions (as well, I suppose, as its Swift/Immediate Actions).

The status of Full-Round actions is not clear, yet.

Move Action


You can take a move action in place of a standard action.

A creature can always use a Move Action instead of a Standard Action

Full-Round Action


Some full-round actions can be taken as standard actions, but only in situations when you are limited to performing only a standard action during your round. The descriptions of specific actions, below, detail which actions allow this option.

Restricted Activity

In some situations, you may be unable to take a full round’s worth of actions. In such cases, you are restricted to taking only a single standard action or a single move action (plus free actions as normal). You can’t take a full-round action (though you can start or complete a full-round action by using a standard action; see below).

A creature can only take a Full-Round Action as a Standard Action:

  • if it is limited to performing only a Standard Action
  • if it is explicitly specified that this particular Full-Round Action can be accomplished as a Standard Action

RAI1: while not fully spelled out, it seems to me that being denied its Move Action (or having traded it off) falls under the case of Restricted Activity here, with only the Standard Action (and Free/Swift/Immediate Actions) remaining, similar to the Staggered condition.

Now, we can check the specific actions mentioned:

Full Attack Action

There is no specific mention of being able to make a full attack as a Standard Action, thus it does not seem possible.


Specifically for the Withdraw action, there is a rule:

Restricted Withdraw

If you are limited to taking only a standard action each round you can withdraw as a standard action. In this case, you may move up to your speed (rather than up to double your speed).

So it is possible to withdraw, although the maximum distance is halved.

1 I interpret the loss of the Move Action as a corresponding loss of time/energy, making the creature incapable of taking a full round's worth of actions on its next turn. It seems consistent with the one other condition that denies one its Move Action (Staggered).

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Just to be clear, you're saying that a creature that loses its move action is on its turn left with only its standard, its swift (if it's not used its immediate since last turn), and its DM-limited number of free actions. Is that accurate? If it is, can you make how you reached that conclusion clearer? That is, I asked the question because it appears that the absence of a move action has no impact on whether or not a creature can, for example, make a full attack. (Further, a creature incapable of taking any move actions seems to be able to full attack just fine.) \$\endgroup\$ Jan 4, 2016 at 18:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan: Indeed, I had taken a leap from what I realize now is potentially a house rule: at my table we consider that doing a full-round action within a round "consumes" the move and standard action, so being denied the move action automatically makes one fall under the restricted activity rule. I've clarified where I took this leap by using the RAI marker and italic text, and I've provided further backing for why it seems the "right" thing to do. I should have guessed that if YOU asked the question there was bound to be a trap! \$\endgroup\$ Jan 4, 2016 at 19:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ What would be the consequence of allowing 1 full round action or 1 standard action (plus swift and free) but no move action: You could charge - but not take a normal move and bull rush or overrun. You could use a touch spell on up to six friends, but not redirect a spell and cast a new one. You could withdraw, but not move using total defense. You could also opt between "start a full round action" (standard action) and a complete full round action. Does that make sense? \$\endgroup\$
    – Giorin
    Jan 4, 2016 at 23:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Giorin: Mostly, you could Full Attack. We are talking about a melee maneuver, so the opponent is already in contact and its most likely action is to full attack. If the maneuver does not preclude the fall attack, then its effect is nigh useless. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 5, 2016 at 7:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mattieu M.: Full attack is mainly what the feat in question is about. But the concept in debate here is: is a full round action a combination of 1 standard action plus 1 move action? In this case, if you subtract the move action, only the standard action is left. That is my perspective. The other concept: full round actions are just a special type of action not infringed by denying move actions. So I tried to show the inconcistency of the second concept by combinations of standard plus move that are impossible being denied a move action while equivalent full round actions are possible. \$\endgroup\$
    – Giorin
    Jan 5, 2016 at 8:22

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