I have just been able to convince my DM into allowing Tome of Battle and allowing my character entering the Warblade.

Nonetheless, he felt uncomfortable about the scope of abilities, especially Iron Heart Surge. He announced he would go by the wording:

when you use this maneuver, select one spell effect, or another condition currently affecting you and with a duration of 1 or more rounds

Thus, he judged, I would not be able to negate any effect measured in minutes, hours, etc. While I see that you can read the entry this way I still wonder:

Is Iron Heart Surge limited to effects that are measured in rounds?

Deducting from official rules sources is prefered. But interpretations on the basis of similar cases and evaluating the effects of either ruling are welcome.


2 Answers 2


No one knows.

Iron Heart surge is easily the biggest question mark in an otherwise-stellar book, worded very confusingly and plagued by nonsensical customer service rulings (that imply, for example, that it could turn off the sun). The errata for Tome of Battle gets just three entries in before being overwritten by the errata to Complete Mage (seriously; it’s still on Wizards’ site that way), so that’s no help.

Thus, most DMs are uncomfortable with the wording of Iron Heart surge. It's an uncomfortable thing, with very little certain except that its literal meaning isn’t very helpful. Clarifying it is necessary in any group before it can be used.

The “measured in rounds” interpretation is one I find absurd, personally. The idea behind the wording, as I see it, is to try to prevent it from covering Instantaneous effects. Maybe also Permanent and Concentration-based effects. Stuff that lasts “until XYZ.” But the unit of measure used should really never be important. Would he really allow it to affect something that lasts “10 rounds/level” but not one that lasts “1 minute/level”? I think that’s a little silly.

Ultimately, the maneuver appears to be a reference to all the times Conan shouted “By CROOOMMMM!!” to break free of something. Personally, that is exactly how I run it: anything it seems like Conan could break free of, the initiator can. I even allow it to end things that would otherwise prevent the initiator from acting, like stun, paralysis, and mind control. I handle AoEs by saying the initiator is immune to the ongoing emanation for the rest of his turn, so he can move out of it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comparing 10 rounds per level to a minute per level is a good point. I will look for a suitable example to convince my DM. But I do not think he would approve to your intuitive approach to the maneuver - he already explicitly ruled out mind control effects! \$\endgroup\$
    – Giorin
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 22:16

I'm not really sure, so I don't expect that this will be the best answer but it seems like there's two ways to look at it.

  1. A round is approximately six seconds. Anything that lasts six seconds or longer is fair game.

  2. You could just limit it to anything measured in rounds, like you said.

On this site I found an extended description including errata, but I don't know if it's from the official. A very useful site nonetheless.


Here is a link to the official errata page, but I can't unzip from my phone.


In the end, my own intuition leads me to believe that Iron Heart Surge can remove anything lasting longer than three seconds, but that is biased by the fact one my favorite active characters is a Warblade. 😎

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    \$\begingroup\$ The official errata gets three entries in and is then overwritten by a copy and paste of the errata to Complete Mage. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 13:47
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Omg that's awful. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 13:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @FrancisJohn: What's really awful is that it's been like this for years. It's one thing to upload a wrong document, but another entirely to (1) leave it as such and (2) never upload the corrected version. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 7:27

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