Head Butt is a combat feat that gives an extra natural attack to a character. What makes it special : it's usable without penalty even when your hands or legs are restrained, but it also damages the user (1/4 of the damage dealt, bypasses all DR).

I thought about taking that feat on a rogue (although its prerequisites are kind of poorly fitting for a rogue), but I wonder something :

If a rogue makes a head butt sneak attack, does he take 1/4 of all the damage, or only 1/4 of the base damage not counting the sneak attack ? Does enemy DR reduce the self-inflicted damage since it reduces actual damage dealt ?


2 Answers 2


The feat states:

If you damage a foe with this natural weapon, you take 1/4 of the damage you inflict.

If you sneak attack, that is additional damage you are inflicting so, yes, that would be factored into the damage you take. Also, since enemy DR is reducing the damage you inflict, then yes, it would also reduce the damage to yourself.

AFAIK, there is no definition in Pathfinder defining a difference between "damage you were going to deal" and "damage actually dealt".


Head Butt definitely counts all of the damage you deal, including critical damage, strength modifier, and any special modifiers such as sneak attack. In order for a creature to take damage, it must first be dealt damage.

As for how Damage Reduction interacts with this ability:

Some magic creatures have the supernatural ability to instantly heal damage from weapons or ignore blows altogether as though they were invulnerable.

The numerical part of a creature's damage reduction (or DR) is the amount of damage the creature ignores from normal attacks.

If damage is being ignored, it's still been dealt. While it doesn't come right out and say it in so many words, why would it make the distinction to point out that damage dealt is instantly healed?

To be a bit of a rule-lawyer here, I'd only consider the damage "dealt" to be reduced if the rules had read:

The numerical part of a creature's damage reduction (or DR) is how much the damage dealt is reduced by when the creature is hit by damage it can ignore.

Also, just read the entire Combat section. Attacks and spells deal damage, and there's no mention that the damage dealt is reduced by any spells or special abilities (that is, damage is always dealt first, then mitigated afterwards).

Attacks are pretty easy to resolve in most cases. First, you must hit your target, overcoming armor class, hit penalties, then you deal your damage, and then that damage is resolved, including absorbing damage, reducing damage, applying harmful effects, and so on.

As a real-life analogy, head-butt a wall hard enough to break through it, if you can. I can pretty much guarantee that you'll take some damage in the process.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with most of this, but can't see why you would take extra damage from a surprise attack as opposed to a non surprise attack -for your analogy if you managed to surprise the wall, why would you take extra damage? Or do you also surprise yourself even while initiating the attack? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 14:06

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